When “Connected” means “Disconnected”

I just wanted to share some quick thoughts on something that I saw on my Facebook feed yesterday.  Ford Trucks posted an advertisement about their new Ford F-150 Innovations.  The interior of that truck looks amazing.  It’s like a mini living room.  The seats look huge and comfy for those kids and it looks to be everything a super comfortable and luxurious truck should be.  This is clearly a truck intended on selling mom that dad’s car can be practical for the whole family.  But it is the description of the picture that I found to be interesting: “The new 2018 Ford F-150 with SYNC Connect and available Wi-Fi means you and the family can stay connected.”

I think the advertisers were trying to wow potential customers with the convenience of an always-on internet connection.  But the picture of family that’s presented here is not a positive one, and it’s that intuition that sparked the negative comments.  Most people lamented what happened to families conversing on the road, looking outside and soaking in the scenery, playing car games, or just simply daydreaming.  The picture that Ford presented of a perfect family drive was in fact not something that families wanted.  They recognized that a “connected” car is a disconnected family.

Technology companies may think that ubiquitous internet is a good that we should all strive towards, but I think there’s something else inside of us that deeply understands that not every space needs it.  We need to acknowledge that being connected all the time is not a good thing.  We inherently understand that something is lost in this picture of the car.  But if that’s true of this picture, isn’t it true of our own lives?  We need to find places to disconnect and unplug.  We need to find time to daydream and think and let our minds wander.  We can often see this missing in other people’s lives, but we’re rarely that aware of our own usage.  We’re on our devices far more than we’re willing to recognize.

Personally, I’ve taken some time over the last few weeks to figure out my own “connectedness”, and one of the steps I’ve taken is to downsize my phone.  I went from the huge iPhone 7 plus to the tiny iPhone SE, and though I lost a lot in camera features, I’m loving the tiny pocketable nature of the phone.  I found myself being distracted by my giant phone because anytime I sat down, I had to pull the phone out of my pocket.  But with the SE, it’s small enough to keep hidden.  I’ve also killed nearly all of the notifications on my phone except for important messaging apps.  But the biggest change so far has been in understanding my own smartphone usage.  I’ve been utilizing the Moment app to track my screen time.  Let’s just say that in the week that I’ve been using it, I have been motivated to reduce how much time I am on my phone.  It finally pushed me to delete certain apps from my phone as well.  The truth is, if we value being connected to people, we need to think about disconnecting from our devices regularly.

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