Saturday, June 27, 2009

are you connected?

If the catch phrase of the sixties and seventies was Timothy Leary's, "Are you experienced?" - a multi-dimensional statement suggesting that drugs, sex, and drink are the means to experience - then the catch phrase for the here and now is, "Are you connected?"

"Are you connected?" refers to the simple fact that much of our life depends on our connection to the internet. The internet brings us our mail, our news, it allows us to communicate in ways that we have never before imagined.The internet exponentially increases our connections with the world in which we live and the people who inhabit that world.

My dependence on the internet was brought home to me this morning as I sit here in the drawing room of the Villa Poggiale. The hotel is an eighteenth century villa more designed to keep out the outside world out than to bring it in. Still, to accomodate guests, the villa set up wi-fi, so that businessmen could conduct business; and casual travelers could keep in touch with love ones at home and make the next reservation for the next hotel along their journey. Alas, I am without a connection. I cannot communicate with friends or family outside the sphere of this small villa.

This experience of being unconnected is disconcerting. Like the Robin Williams - Peter Pan character in the movie "Hook;" I on vacation with family, but constantly checking in with the internet to find what is going on back home. In Robin Williams case, it was a cell phone. His wife and children are exasperated, as are mine, with an obsession of staying connected to business clients while ignoring the needs of the family. In the movie, finally the son, I think, chucks the phone out the window and his connection is gone. Robin Williams, the Peter character grown into adulthood must now confront his personal fears.

My family surrounds me while I sit at the computer impatiently waiting for me to drive them to San Gimilgnano. I am unconnected. But, then perhaps the message is that connections can be interpersonal as well as digital. So, for a time, I need to connect to my family and friends in a way that does not involve a computer.

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