But at times, enough is enough, and even the most addicted Crackberry addicts need to take a break. When the Beatles wrote the song "A Day in the Life" in the 1960s, they certainly didn't realize exactly then how a typical day in the life would unfold for the ordinary American citizen about four decades later. Instead of "I read the news today, oh boy," a common day today unfolds more like the following:
"Woke up, got out of bed, plugged an iPod into my head."
"Found my way downstairs and mainlined my BlackBerry instead of drinking a cup."
"And looking up, I noticed I was late."
"Found my coat, grabbed my cell phone and forgot my hat."
"Had three wireless conversations while making the bus in seconds flat."
"Found my way upstairs and IM'ed, updated my blog, without having a smoke."
"Somebody spoke and I went into a dream."
And this dream would cause the song to end this time with:
"I'd love to turn you off," instead of "I'd love to turn you on."
The real challenge we face today is not external in terms of gaining access to information from multiple sources. Rather, the challenge can be seen in the mirror. Are you able to turn off your gadgets if only for a brief period of time each day to catch up with yourself and the people immediately around you?
It's not as easy as it sounds, I know.
But learning to "turn off" has many rewards, in addition to allowing oneself to think--really think--without interference. One reward is not becoming a disturbance and annoyance to others. Surely, all of us can recall instances when we have been bombarded in public places by the sounds of cell phones, PDA alarms and conversations of others through their mobile phone headsets.
Another benefit is the possibility of truly connecting with others. Many of us have been present for in-person meetings, when most of the people in attendance were busy reaching out elsewhere on their BlackBerrys or Treos. Perhaps we should consider talking directly to the person next to us instead.
Or even closer to home, some of us have been guilty of sitting at the dinner table with our family, only to be distracted by answering cell phone calls or sending and receiving e-mails on our handheld devices. Perhaps a slight break from this high-tech madness might cause us to get to know our families a tad better.
And frankly, a little less high-tech connection might allow people to get their jobs done more efficiently and with higher productivity. Studies have shown that employees across all sorts of industries spend large portions of their work time plugged into the Internet for personal reasons, probably while multitasking with work duties. Surely, work performance could be improved without regular high-tech sidetracking, and that's to the benefit of employers and employees alike.
Harkening back to the '60s again, Janis Joplin sang that "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Perhaps our battle cry today should be that "freedom's just another word for briefly losing our high-tech connection."
is a partner in the San Francisco office of . His focus includes information technology and intellectual-property disputes. To receive his weekly columns, send an e-mail to email@example.com with "Subscribe" in the subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only, and it should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.
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