An Incongruous Plea to The Wired

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In our attempt to remain connected at all times, we spoil opportunities to connect in real life.

I have this romantic notion that the deepest friendships come about only through face-to-face interactions. Regrettably, I feel we are losing our ability to appreciate and understand the complexities of each other unless it’s though a blog post, e-mail, or text message.

Technology enables us to be ‘on’ all the time– which practically means we’re never off. Modern communication is instantaneous, interruptive, and incessant; and, we cope with it by multitasking. And with technology always on, we’re losing the ability to turn multitasking off.

This is especially disconcerting in social situations: we automatically anticipate distractions in moments when there’s nothing to distract us, and that awareness distracts us from each other. Sometimes we’ll artificially create a distraction to fill a void. We can’t help but multitask; and when we do, we lose detail, complexity, and depth. (Yes, even you.)

The funny thing is that technology enables us to maintain close relationships with a greater number of people. But, in doing so, we implicitly devalue face-time and forgo possibly deeper relationships. Something feels off when I feel closer to friends through e-mail and blogs than through time spent together.

I hope this isn’t the case with me. In fact, that’s the point of this post: if you ever feel I’m not giving you my full attention or I am using technology as a blanket, call me out on it. Unmediated communication is too important and I’d like to stop being a victim of my distractibility.

More: NPR: How Multitasking Affects Human Learning, Time: The Multitasking Generation

The Aggregator Aggravator

If people are going to stalk me, I want them to have to work for it.

Services like FriendFeed make it easy for users to aggregate statuses, feeds, and notifications so their “friends” can conveniently track their every move. Narcissistic, maybe, but it’s not particularly bothersome. Services like Spokeo and SocialThing! make it easy for users to track their “friends’” every move… without their knowledge.

This is bothersome.

Aggregation isn’t inherently bad– it’s just not always wanted. With social capabilities making their way into nearly every web service, it’s easy to forget how much you’re revealing about yourself. In fact, it’s now trivial to find your Amazon.com Wish List, Blockbuster Queue, latest [boy|girl]friend’s name, and everything else automatically at a finger’s reach in real time.

To combat unwanted aggregation, I use a spam-protection hack that employs single-use e-mail addresses. Services like Spokeo search major websites for accounts with identical usernames and e-mail addresses. Simply differentiate e-mail addresses using the aforementioned hack and you’re golden– and spam-free!

Give the spooky Spokeo a try. It’ll scour your e-mail account for addresses and aggregate all of your contacts for you.

Try not to become too much of a stalker.