As Mrs. Kleimo barked the word “go” to begin a speed test for our high school typing class, my friend Dave – who had wrapped my typewriter’s power cord around his ankle – kicked his foot to the side, ejecting my plug from its outlet. I was surrounded by a chorus of furious two-fisted tapping. But when my fingers hit my powerless keys, there was nothing.
That was back when I could be unplugged.
Recently, I was reminded of just how different things are when I drove past a bus with a giant ad for a Palm device that read:
Life is fast, don’t miss a thing.
That ad certainly captures the urgency with which I, and millions of others, keep a staring eye on a laptop or iPhone. The information comes fast. And it does feel like, if you look away from the stream, you’ll instantly fall behind.
Of course, the sensation described in the Palm ad is more of a pathology than a reality. You’re more likely to miss something – a face to face conversation, a funny moment with your kids, a threeway slowdance with Beyonce and Shakira – when you’re under the spell of your various devices connected to the realtime web.
We all know that. Yet we constantly find ourselves distracted by the warm glare of one of our screens. I know I should be talking to my wife or feeding one of my kids or reading a book, but still, gimme, gimme, I need, I need. You go ahead and enjoy the sunset, I’ve got nearly 10 billion tweets to catch up on.
I have too many devices and too much access to allow it to happen, but sometimes I wish my old friend Dave could wrap a single cord around his ankle, give a good kick and unplug me from all the things I’m not supposed to miss. Since that’s not technically doable like it was with my old electric typewriter, maybe Dave can just kick me in the shin and remind me of a quote from that great philosopher Ferris Bueller:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
It took me nearly twenty-five years to retweet that line.