Way back in the day (as today’s teenagers call it) before cell phones, e-mails, text messages, tweets, status updates, before all this instant communication, we used to have set hours for work, hours for play, hours for studying, eating, sleeping and so on. In other words, whatever activity we were involved in, that particular activity had 100% of our attention.
Most of the time.
I still daydreamed in class and wrote notes to my friends, but that was it. We couldn’t send text messages and get instant replies. We pretty much had to pay attention to those people in the room with us.
When we joined the work force, we had regular hours. Be it “nine to five” or “seven to four” or “three to eleven.” Whatever our hours of employment were, we put in that time. And other than one or two personal phone calls a day, we talked to our co-workers, did our jobs and then went home.
Where we then had the dinner hour, TV time, homework time or whatever. You get the picture.
And Sunday was a day for spending with your family. Stores and malls were not open. Not that I don’t like shopping on a Sunday, but it was nice that the merchants had a day off. A day when they didn’t have to feel they would be losing business if they didn’t stay open like everyone else around them.
Now we’re on 24/7. Always connected to each other.
The term started with basketball player Jerry Reynolds who was referring to his jump shot being, "good 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year". It has come to mean so much more than that.
When I think of 24/7 I see this giant spider web. Millions of threads connecting everyone together. From work to the gym to the park to the restaurant to the airport to the moon. It’s everywhere. We’re all tangled up in this big web and sometimes it’s really hard to break away.
Work follows us through the drive home and into our bedrooms. Friends. Frenemies. Friends with Benefits. Everyone can find us wherever we are.
Some of this is good. But I think that some new psychological problems must be popping up on the therapist’s couch.
To name just a few:
Instant Message Disorder (IMD) – Obsessing over why you haven’t received an answer yet. Why, it’s been thirty seconds!
Texting Trauma (TT) - Misinterpretation of the text meaning.
Message Retrieval Anxiety (MRA) - Unable to find an important message.
Ringtone Identity Crisis (RIC) - Confusion over choosing the tone that best represents who you are.
Not to mention the physical ailments of Texting Thumbness, Crooked Necked Syndrome and Jingled Ear Drums (hearing your cell phone ring, even when there is no service where you are located.)
I’m just as addicted as the next person. Today, I went to get my car washed. Back in the day, I would have actually read the book in my purse. Or people-watched.
Today, I made phone calls catching up with friends that I’ve been too busy to talk to during the week.
I’m not saying we should go back to those old days.
But if it’s 24/7 now, what will the future bring?
Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again. She writes about how life is NOW compared to THEN, with her special blend of funny and sweet. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. And she has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth. She is a staff writer at In The Powder Roomand blogs frequently for The Huffington Post. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her website www.JanieEmaus.com.