Disconnected

at 12:35 AM

When I log on to my office computer from a remote location, a welcome screen pops up with a cheery tableau of a family at the beach. There are two kids, laughing in the waves. There is Mom, smiling in rolled up jeans with bare feet in the water. And in Mom's hand is her smartphone, as she happily looks down at it and does her email.

This is the new ideal for the high-tech worker -- to be constantly connected. Go anywhere, leave your desk behind!  This advanced species of employee travels to remote regions to do their work. In one ad, a fleece-clad adventurer is poised on a mountain, his iPad displaying a chart as he preps his next powerpoint slide.

But sometimes, wouldn't it be nice not to be so connected? After climbing to the mountain peak, might it be pleasant to... enjoy the view? And is the real point of a seaside vacation to clean out your inbox from a scenic locale?

The problem is, connection creates distraction. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, all those messages are seeking you out, clamoring for attention. Texts, tweets, status updates, cat videos. And for workers, the biggest perpetrator is that email stacking up every day, whether you're in the office or not.

Last year there were 107 trillion emails sent. Even subtracting out offers to share the $18.7 million belonging to President Mobutu's widow, that is a massive flow of bits to manage. Is it any wonder we walk around like techno-zombies, hands outstretched as we stare into tiny screens, as if taking orders from alien overlords?

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Next time I'm out and about, I'll resist the urge to whip out my phone. I'll look around, notice the clouds, talk to someone, daydream. That is, right after I respond to this next urgent email.

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With a Perspective, I'm Todd Adler.

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