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The Blessings and Curses of Always On (or Off) Connectivity



This has been an insane week for me. We’re opening a production of Always Patsy Cline at a different venue from our home theatre, Historic Jordan Springs Event and Cultural Arts Center. It is a lovely venue, almost idyllic in its rural setting. At the same time we’re in the second  week of rehearsals for Dead Man’s Cell Phone back at Wayside Theatre. I’m directing both, so that means we rehearse one during the day and the other at night. That makes for long days and even longer nights as we head into the Patsy opening this weekend, followed by Dead Man’s Cell Phone technical rehearsals next week.

Usually when I have to be in two places at once I rely on my mobile kit to keep me connected. Something always needs attention the minute you set foot out the door or arrive at the other location. That’s not the case here, as Historic Jordan Springs is located in a connectivity free zone. I mean there is nothing there at the site itself. Turn into the driveway and all signals fade, death grip or no. That’s life at a rural retreat.

On the one hand this is a complete curse as I’m incommunicado when I’m there. That takes some adjustment given how I like to be connected. But on that other hand, it brings some peace of mind and freedom to focus on the work without distractions. In fact, I’ve taken to turning Air Plane mode on the minute I enter the building. Not only do I have to train myself to deal with the lack of connectivity, I have to train those who might need to contact me not to expect an immediate or timely response. Talk about learning how well people read emails and listen to voice mails with contact information. I quickly am learning that more than I thought just don’t. I’ve also re-learned how some take advantage of the fact that they know when you can’t respond and that’s when they provide you with the info or work product you’ve requested, or make requests of same from me.

The minute I turn Air Plane Mode off again and hit the road, emails, SMS messages, and voicemails come flooding in. It has gotten so I almost hate to flip that switch. But duty calls and I do. Another thing I’m learning from this pattern is that there is a hefty percentage of emails and other communications that I usually pay attention to that, in the final analysis, don’t deserve the time or attention I usually afford them.  Maybe that comes from scrolling through a list of messages, or maybe it is just the brain’s way of organizing priorities in a different fashion.

In any regard, this week has been an interesting one when it comes to learning new communication and human interaction patterns, and it is more than ironic that Dead Man’s Cell Phone deals with those communication and interaction issues. Is life imitating art? Not sure.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Xavier Lanier

    07/09/2010 at 11:07 am

    I’m in a similar boat this week. I’ve been on/off pain meds after getting a root canal. After a full week of not constantly being online I have over 1,500 unread email. I’m going to have to perform better email triage from here on out and set up better filters/labels.

    Hang in there….and give me a call sometime ;-)

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