Online in the real world

Right now, my best friend is tucked into the corner of a Starbucks in Vancouver sipping a pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream.

How do I know this moderately creepy tidbit? My all-knowing BlackBerry Messenger tells me so.

Over the course of our time together, the two long vibrations from the tiny device—which is more or less glued to my hand—have now come to represent a once loving, now loathing two-year relationship with technology.

Don’t get me wrong. My friends are wicked cats and I’m not complaining about the privilege of being kept in the loop on their daily goings-on, I relish it.

But the constant ‘Liking’, tweeting and pinging is starting to make me a little claustrophobic.

Last week, after a particularly eventful evening, I left my phone behind at a friend’s house. In the hours that lapsed before I picked it up, the lack of response on my end managed to convince my parents and friends alike that I’d evaporated from humanity.

I’m beyond thankful to have people in my life that worry when I go AWOL, but the fact that my cell phone has become an essential extension and representation of me makes me uneasy. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter.

It’s not a novel idea that a life without Facebook these days is no life at all—no life worth caring about anyway. Recently a friend got word she’d been accepted to grad school and did what every other applicant would by sharing the good news on Facebook.

I quickly sent her a congratulatory text, but my neglect to comment or ‘Like’ her status led her to think I didn’t care. It became painfully clear that unless my declaration was public, it didn’t have the same effect.

Whatever happened to the days of a high five and a coffee on me?

We’ve become so desensitized by our connectivity that I barely feel emotion when corresponding anymore. The exchange of a few brief messages back and forth removes all feeling from words and offers the possibility of doing the unthinkable, and not responding.

Anyone who knows me is reading this with a smirk. It’s a safe bet that I’m typing away on my Blackberry this very second. I’m as guilty as the rest and am the first to admit the importance and necessity of my trusty handheld, which keeps me on top of three email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, texting and BlackBerry messaging.

Technology will only become more efficient and omniscient as time goes on and I hope our personal skills will follow suit.

Rather than taking for granted what our phones and laptops do for us, remembering the man behind the mechanism might be a reminder to tune into life more than just virtually.

If that’s too much to ask, at least take your phone off the dinner table.

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