Friday, December 17, 2010

The Comfort of Connectivity

My family, friends, and colleagues believe I spend way too much time keeping up with my email and related work activities, even when I am on vacation, as I am now. They are probably right, as I type this while on vacation in lovely Oaxaca, Mexico.

Maybe it is because I remember the days when email and Internet connectivity from afar were hit or miss. Now, however, I have to admit that I marvel at the ease of accessing Wi-Fi and even my Verizon smartphone (phone, texting, and Internet on my Droid) from this lovely city that is not exactly at the forefront of technology. I am staying in a mid-range apartment, which has Wi-Fi, as does the Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca, where I am studying Spanish for a couple weeks. (The Droid is a wonderful helper for learning Spanish, as I am using two apps for Spanish-English dictionaries.) Since everything on my Droid works here, I am even able to set up a 3G mobile hot spot in a pinch!

Many eating, coffee, and other establishments have Wi-Fi as well, even the Parque El Llano a couple blocks from our apartment. My Droid has even worked in most of the small villages outside of Oaxaca. Perhaps even more amazing was that some homes in these poor villages actually have broadband Internet.

I truly am trying to take a vacation and only responding to critical emails. I have to admit there is a certain comfort to know that my connectivity is there, even if I am trying to minimize its use. I am reading my emails if for no other reason to not have thousands awaiting my return from this two and a half week vacation.

Of course, my physical and virtual lives are so merged that it would be very difficult to not use my computer and access the Internet, even when on vacation. I certainly enjoy taking pictures with my digital camera and sharing them. I also do a good deal of my news reading these days on-line. And of course there are my many friends and others on Facebook with whom I enjoy interacting. In addition, figuring out the details of visiting tourist sites, restaurants, and other places is greatly facilitated when one has Internet access. So it would be truly difficult if not impossible to completely unplug.

There is literally no place on the planet where the Internet is not accessible these days. In the past few years, I have connected from places such as Zimbabwe and Cuba. While ubiquitous global connectivity has some drawbacks, I firmly believe it is positive overall, and the ease of communication and sharing can foster better relations among peoples of the world.

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