Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spinning in the Invisible Web

My first cellular phone was referred to as a car phone.  It was large and wired to the dash of my car and its only mode of mobility was traveling wherever my car went.  I was hesitant to get one, despite the fact that “everyone” in Hollywood was getting them.  Even my husband, whose occupation requires considerable driving time, had one.

At that time, my kids were fairly young and as a wife-mother-executive, I was constantly in demand, constantly visible.  I had an hour+ commute to the Fox studio lot every day, and the solitude of the drive was the only welcome reprieve from being on call to anyone and everyone but me all the time.   A car phone felt like it would become yet another leash tethered to my psyche and my time, choking out the only meager minutes of personal freedom I had.  Naturally, the inevitable day arrived, and the cloaking device that was called a commute became inoperative as soon as the car phone was installed.

Today we typically deny it, but most of us—at least to a certain extent--relish in being visible, being accountable and accessible 24/7. It makes us feel responsible and needed.  Humans are reward based, and after all, we are human.  If we don’t have texts, IMs, voicemails, emails, status updates or calls, concern heightens…we don’t feel like we matter. 

It is amazing how our ability to communicate on the go has become so simplified and intertwined into our lifestyle needs in such a short period of time.

In an article entitled, “The Invisible Web” ( EVP Chief Technology Strategist at McCann Erickson New York, Faris Yakob, explains, “The true extent of the social and cultural impact of technology is only felt when it becomes invisible.”  Using the example below to validate his beliefs, Yakob professes that internet and mobile technology is hastening so quickly that soon how we communicate in the real and virtual world will become seamless and simply disappearing from our own consciousness:  

“The philosopher Martin Heidegger provides us with the best-known example of invisible technology: a blind person's cane. The cane becomes more than a tool that the blind person uses to navigate; it becomes an extension of the arm. It goes from being part of the external environment and becomes part of you, a part of you that has specific influences on your experience of the world.”  

Today, my Blackberry is more than a phone, it’s an extension of not just my arm, but my life.   I struggled to survive being unreachable for an entire day when it went down for 24 hours last week.  No phone, no email, no Internet.  Yet in a strange way, I enjoyed it also because it gave me permission to be invisible, even just for a while.

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