Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Concept of Tethering and Untethering

It could be that I'm writing this entire post because 'tether' is one of those words I like saying. It's one of many words I enjoy using because I like the way it sounds or it's definition is perfect for a particular situation, but that's not the point of this post.

I always think of tethering as being connecting to a laptop/computer the old fashion way (without wifi or wireless modem) and untethered as getting your email via a wireless device such as your blackberry. Either case, you're still till tethered to something because you're attached to your device like it holds all the answers to your questions, when it really doesn't.I think it's getting harder and harder to walk away, or 'untether' oneself, from an electronic media device.

I grew up in the 1980's, prior to the electronic age. Call waiting and 3 party calling was the latest gizmo and if the phone rang, you ran to get it before your mom picked it. I watched the introduction of cellphones take off and remember how exciting (yes, I used the word exciting) when I would hear my phone ring.

As one gizmo is replaced with another, my fascination for the current device fads.

However, the availability of internet service, has lessened my demand to always wanting or having to be in the know. Recently, I started to acknowledge just how much time I kept my laptop on, how often I checked my friends' status on Facebook and how often I'd open my inbox to scan the new message I'd just received. I guess I started acknowledging it because my husband is not an electronics gadget junkie. In fact, I don't think he turns on his laptop, outside of work hours, more than once or twice per week. I also noticed, as many articles have suggested, computers can suck the life out of someone. Between social media, games, and just searching the web for random information, I realized I was dropping time. I'd gotten out-of-control. I decided to take back my life and walk away from the computer.

Now, I go on in the mornings for about 1 to 2 hours, and again in the evening for about 2 hours. Otherwise, I shut it down and put my laptop away.

Oddly enough, I haven't missed a thing. In fact, I've started catching up on the stack of magazines I've ignored for so long.

I wonder.....will I have self control when the next new gizmo is invented or will I be sucked in as I have in the past.


Pat said...

I don't have one of those phones that gets internet or emails; I just have my computer. But believe me, I am "tethered" to it....sometimes 8-10 hours a day! My husband is retired; I quit my job and we travel full-time in our RV. When we are settled at a place for a certain amount of time (like near my daughter or other family members) and we don't see them every day, I tend to be on the computer for hours. The wi-fi isn't great at campgrounds, so I can say that a lot of the time is spent trying to post or commenting on other blogs; but I do spend time surfing or playing games. I find that I'm not reading my books as much and exercise? I have to force myself to get away from my computer! Things will change when we get to AZ for the winter; there is a lot of activities going on at all times and I have a lot of friends, so thankfully my computer time is cut down. Whew! Didn't mean to have such a long comment!

JeannetteLS said...

I was heartbroken when my laptop died two years ago and I hadn't the money to replace it. I had my desktop. I have a disability which has profoundly degenerated in the last two years and am now housebound far more than I care to look at.

The computer opens the world to me... but when I DO NOT exercise discipline, I am tethered to it in unhealthy ways. For instance, I have self-imposed a moratorium on Facebook for a time. I returned to reading blogs instead because often there are INSPIRING things, beautiful art, personal stories, poetry, and essays that make me think.

I refused to text. I turn my cell phone OFF when I am out. I HATE the idea of 24/7 accessibility. When I worked for Stanford from my home in CT, occasionally I got flown out there. We would have production meetings because I was the copywriter for the website for one department, and the graphics person would be there... and about four other people. There were texting, paging, and other interruptions.

The guy at the Director level was in love with his own indispensability. The graphics person and I were fed up. She asked whether he would simply go take care of his other business rather than using her time with his interruptions. He was shocked. She and I were around fifty. He not yet forty.

We all looked to find the next meeting time, agreeing to have me on a speaker phone for the meeting. She and I took out our, nice, flat calendars, and looked at the next month in front of us. They all whipped out their blackberries. Someone would propose a date and we had the answer in ONE SECOND. They were going click click click to find the answer. It took SO much longer.

But my computer also allows me to use my exercise bike while I watch a dvd or something online. I don't have to buy a tv, or figure out how to while away the forty-five to sixty-five minutes.

LIke everything else, technology outstrips our WISDOM in our application far too often.

I am going on and on so I will stop. I find that I have grown very choosy in what I decide I NEED or truly WANT now. I know texting is an inevitability. Turning the cell phone ON is not.

Spot said...

I'm tethered pretty much all the time. It's worse when we are releasing a book because I have to be tethered so that I can get all the details worked out with my team.

I do realize that this is a problem. Hello, My name is Spot and I'm a Net junkie.


JeannetteLS said...

Sorry I WROTE so long--feel free to delete if you like.

Brian Miller said...

i hear you...i tend to get on for an hour inthe morning, at lunch and then at night once everyone goes to bed...i am tethered at times and am glad my phone gets no net so i can escape...

Little Ms Blogger said...

Pat - I was that way and realized it was getting out of control. It sounds like you'll unplugging soon.

Jeannette - I hear you about FB. I can see why you use it -- for me, I was just getting sucked into things like FB. Also...you didn't write too much or long. I love hearing from people.

Spot. Okay. You crack me up with your comment of "Hello, My name is Spot and I'm a Net junkie"

Brian - You have amazing discipline. If memory serves me, you also don't own a tv.

lacochran's evil twin said...

Isn't it strange how liberating it can be to unplug? It feels terrible at first. And then... it feels WONDERFUL!!! :)

Tether. Yeah, that's a good word.

So. Cal. Gal said...

My computer is on from 12 pm to 12 am. Am I always on it? No. I just don't want to boot it every time I think of something I need to do on it.

Dan said...

Given that I get information from the net, entertainment from the net, ... I am always connected when I want to be, but I feel free to ignore the phone and email and ... at any time.

So I don't feel either tethered nor un-tethered: just able to use tools when I want to.

Joanna Jenkins said...

It's easy to get carried away. I actually set a timer so I can keep track of my time online and still have a life!

Little Ms Blogger said...

LET - ABSOLUTELY. I'm amazed how much time I was wasting online when I was on it with no purpose.

So. Cal Gal - Not sure I would have the same discipline as you do.

Dan - you mentioned something key - you're able to ignore things. Ever see people that must answer their cell even when it isn't important.

JJ - I'm like you. That's why I shoot it down.

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