As Roy Ascott has informed us, online we are always potentially in a state of connectedness to anyone, anywhere. The mobility of the smart phone, has in essence, tethered us to this constant potentiality in the global Net. Are we better off for this continuous state of the networked embrace? Or, as Sherry Turkle reminds us, do we no longer want to be uninterrupted. We are in a continuous state of interruption, alarms buzzing with every text, every tweet, every connection to be made and responded to. She asks:
“When was the last time you felt you you didn‘t want to be interrupted.”
The ramifications of living the 24/7 connected life in the post reality are staggering. Are we tethered to our so-called liberating mobile devices like an albatross? Or are we free to move about the physical space, knowing, we are not constrained by the laws of the known world to any be in any one locale at one moment. Is this truly liberation? Or are we slaves to the throbbing alarms of every signal that is passed to us.
And as Ascott has asked, is there love in the telematic embrace? Does this unceasing connectivity bring with it a quality of intimacy to our network of friends and colleagues? Turkle seems to suggest that our open source lifestyle is a process of evolution:
“Intimacy without privacy reinvents what intimacy means.”
What kind of intimacy do we achieve in the tethered state of connection we carry with us everywhere we go, whether in a private walk through a park or a stroll along a busy street in downtown Manhattan.
When communications is woven into the fabric of our everyday lives, when every spare minute is taken up with checking email or dispatching a text, do we expect our network of tethered colleagues to be just as responsive? Do we need an immediate response to our latest feeling, sense of loss, loneliness, betrayal, euphoria, whatever the feeling might be? Are our emotions tied to feedback from the recipients of our instantaneous communications? Do we feel a sense of loss with each second a text goes unanswered in the Web of virtual relations?
These are the difficult questions we ask in order to understand the effects of the information culture we inhabit each and every day. If we don’t ask, how will we know what has hit us when the power goes out?