On and Off — Both are Good

Good Morning Silicon Valley debates whether or not we can ‘turn off’ the electronic connectivity that is pervasive in our lives.  http://tinyurl.com/raysqc

Personally, I am glad to have the option to be connected and “on” and I feel I have the power to disconnect and be “off” when I want.

I discuss this social issue in my communication course at SFSU.  Just because we have access to the technology doesn’t mean that we need to use it all the time.  And just because we use the technology doesn’t mean we are bad or inconsiderate.  We need to use our social judgment and decide for ourselves what is the right balance of “on” and “off”.  That balance is not going to be the same for each individual and it will take some time before our society will set norms to guide behavior.

Remember when cell phones were new and before each meeting the leader would have to remind everyone to turn them off.  Then the social norm was formed that it is rude to use a cell phone in a meeting and most people automatically turn them off.  But then texting came along and people are still working out that social norm.  It is the give and take between individuals that determine what the social rules become.  And it starts with individuals making their own judgements about when and where and how they want to use the connecting technology.

Whenever a technology is being adopted, it tends to be used in ways and places that eventually are determined to be socially inappropriate.  And at this time in history, many people are so enthralled with technology that they are reluctant to be “off” and disconnected.  But, I believe that will change with time.  Eventually we will all be able to benefit from the features of the technology and be able to balance the “on” and “off” equation.