Thursday, April 26, 2007

Crisis in connectivity

I realized yet again how much my high speed internet access has become a part of my extended ego when on returning to Madison WI from Ft. Lauderdale FL it took the better part of a week for me to get DSL, cable modem, wireless router, etc. back up and running again. During the down period I began to empathize more with what people must go through in drug withdrawal, a vital craving was not being satisfied.

In this light I enjoyed reading the account of people reacting to a recent 12 hour shutdown of the Blackberry messaging network (PDF here)

...what if what the users were missing was more primitive and insidious than
uninterrupted access to information?...the stated yearning to stay abreast of things may mask more visceral and powerful needs, as many self-aware users themselves will attest. Seductive, nearly inescapable needs...constant use becomes ritualistic physical behavior, even addiction, the absorption of nervous energy, like chomping gum...This behavior is then fueled by powerful social motivators. Interaction with a device delivering data gives a feeling of validation, inclusion and desirability....“acquired attention deficit disorder” ... [can] describe the condition of people who are accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it. Regardless of whether the stimulation is from the Internet, TV or a cellphone, the brain... is hijacked.

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