We've all seen the group of teens sitting silently together at a table texting other people. If you're like me you wonder, what's the point of hanging out with friends when you're just texting someone else or updating Facebook?
But are we all that different from that group of apparently anti-social teens? Aren't we doing the same thing when we reply to a work email when out for dinner or when your entire table checks their phones for the answer to the day's trivia question? I know I've caught myself doing these things.
Hyper-connection means never missing a moment of the Kardashians. It means never missing an email, text, Tweet or status update. But is that a good thing? Are we too connected? And even if the answer is yes, is it even possible to back away from the smartphones and social media and go back to our old-fashioned, face-to-face, voice-to-voice ways?
Social Media Isn't Helping
I will admit I was a Facebook user back in the day when you had to have an ".edu" address just to get an account. It was the coolest thing since Myspace, which isn't saying much now, but back then it was a big deal. It was a novelty to be able to catch up with friends from high school, classmates at school, and co-workers at work.
Little did I know that Facebook was the gateway drug to hyper-connection.
Like pretty much everyone else on the planet, I'm hooked. But I also know I'm being overdosed. I'm happy for my friend who just had a baby, but do I need to see a new picture every day? No, Mom and Dad, I will not be your friend on Facebook even if I can hide my pictures from you. And at the end of the day, do I really need to know what 1,328 friends think about the College Football National Championship Game? Do I really have that many friends?
Of course, I can't quit now, can I? After all, Google had to go and start another social media site, Google+. Now I have LinkedIn for career networking, Facebook for friends, and Google + for ... (Why do I have Google +?) If that's not enough, there's Twitter, which I have to check 50 times a day just in case Texts From Last Night had something funny to say.
My head is spinning from being hyper-connected to things I don't even need in my life. And now they're coming at me at an even faster pace.
You're Being Left in the Dust
Have you seen the AT&T commercial where everything is "soooo 12 seconds ago." That's the industry saying that if you're not plugged in, you're falling behind.
The rollout of 4G networks by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint has given us broadband-speed on-the-go that almost matches the speed of a home connection.
Yes, I rail against this progress. I claim that what I really need is an old-fashioned cell phone without Facebook or Twitter -- a phone that's so hard to text message on, I give up and call instead. Yes, I want to go back to the simpler days when I called to ask what you were up to or to say I was on my way home.
Even though that's what I want, it won't happen. I'm too connected. I'll use work as an excuse to Tweet and I'll admit that it's easier to text my friends to figure out plans for the night. And what would I do without those stupid games to fill up the extra time in my life? It's not like I read books anymore!
The electronics industry has drawn me in with its shiny gadgets and its lightning-fast information at my fingertips. I'll remember the days with my old-school cell phone and the conversations I once had. But if you want to reach me, you'll find me floating somewhere in the G+LinkedTwitterFace social media universe. There's no escaping it.
Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple.