Dropbox wants you to sync all of your files on every single device your own. Zillow wants you to download their app to find a home to buy. Facebook wants you to enable push notifications so they can tell you the minute someone Likes your update. Twitter wants to access your location so they can broadcast it to your followers. Google wants to track your browsing history so it can deliver search results better tailored for you. It’s a little comforting to know that all of these and more are trying to get you to connect and stay connected in the best way possible.
But what do you want?
Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out… and Explode
Sometimes the apps and networks and search engines are right. Sometimes we do want to be (or at least feel) connected. And if you’ve made that conscious decision, then you’re on the right track. But that’s not an excuse for giving technology blanket permission to consume your life.
If your phone is blowing up every five minutes with an alert or an email, chances are you’re not being terribly productive. In fact, the benefits of multitasking have long since proven to be mythical productivity unicorns, and yet we still convince ourselves that we’re great at juggling tasks. Furthermore, being interrupted while working has proven to have detrimental consequences to productivity. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t recognize the value of the “flow” state or being “in the groove” or “hyperfocused.” Who hasn’t been startled out of a task to realize that three hours have passed and you really have to pee and OMG look at how much work you did? It feels good, doesn’t it?
So why don’t we embrace the power of disconnecting?
Less is More
There are a lot of “what ifs” in the connectivity illusion. What if you really need that document to show a client at a coffee shop because you’ve forgotten to bring your laptop? What if your long-lost childhood friend checks into the same bar as you? What if you don’t find what you’re looking for on the first page of search results?
Maybe Dropbox is enabling you to be forgetful. Maybe you really don’t need to catch up with someone from your distant past when you’re both completely different people now. Maybe you should dig a little deeper for the best answers to your query.
Ask questions. Make a choice. Make a change. Disconnect.
Will the world come crashing down? Maybe. But I bet it doesn’t.