I left my phone at home today. While it is slightly disconcerting, it shouldn't be a big deal since there are 27 other ways people could get in touch with me. Heck, I get an email anytime I have a new voicemail or miss a call anyway. But still, it leaves me feeling slightly disconnected.
I remember the old days. You had a black book with your addresses and phone numbers in it, or you kept them in your head. You had a "daytimer" or some such quaint thing with your schedule and important notes. Maybe you even had a rolodex. Yeah, I'm really dating myself, ask me if I care. Just google it. But at the end of the day important information was always in one place. Really important information, like the phone numbers of your best friends/spouse/pizza delivery/drug dealer were kept in your head. Now, I'm not even sure I know my own phone number, much less anyone else's.
There was only one way to get in touch with someone. Land line telephone, leave a message. You made plans because you had to. You couldn't just say "let's all meet up tonight." No, you would have to arrange in advance, a specific place, a specific time. A concert or sporting event was even more complicated - imagine trying to connect with a bunch of other people at RFK stadium with no cell phones. That was serious business. Parking Lot A near light post 27 at 4:30 PM. Try again every hour if we miss each other. Meet at the beer station by portal 120 if we get lost. And so it went.
While in some ways this was a pain in the neck, in other ways it was far simpler than it is now. There was no ambiguity about how to reach someone, because there were no options.
Now, there are a million options.
- Cell phone. Many people have more than one.
- Land line. Becoming endangered in the wild, but they still exist.
- Text messaging. Quickly replacing voice communication.
- Email. Ubiquitous, but inconsistent. Some people receive it on the telephone, some people get it while at work, some people never while at work.
- Facebook. Social networking is becoming increasingly popular as a way to organize events, parties, even just communicate directly with people or groups.
- Twitter. Not really quite sure what it's purpose is yet, but since I just got onboard with it a month ago, I assume it's already yesterday's news. But it is clearly considered a legitimate method of communication by some.
- Online chat. Gchat, facebook chat, whatever.
- Blogs. Half the world has a blog now, so if you want to keep up with your friends' manic musings or rants then you better be on that too.
The lines between everything is getting blurred. I've sent people text messages and had them respond by email. I've posted something on facebook and had someone call me in response.
And it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything. I have events scheduled on facebook and evite. I have a calendar at work in Outlook. I sometimes don't check email over the weekend, but other people assume that everyone's on email all the time because they have a blackberry or an iphone.
Without question there are benefits to all this stuff. But god damn does it suck up a lot of time to keep up with everything. Can't all this stuff just get wrapped into one place somehow?
Someone invent the the twitfaceiphonetextchatblogemailasaurus already. I can't take any more.