My Life WITHOUT Texts, IMs, E-mail, Facebook, And Twitter

Beth Monaghan

Photo: InkHouse

Ari Gold (on family night): “I’m here, I’m present, I’m suffering. No phone, BlackBerrys, or carrier pigeons.”A few things happened over the past week that have gotten me focused on the importance of immediacy. First, New Hampshire announced plans to crack down on its ban on texting while driving – reminding me of how addicted we all are to the ding of a text notification. Second, I read Om Malik’s post on “Perpetual Nowness.” He is suggesting that we are constantly seeking the next thing and “suffer from a collective cultural amnesia about what happened five minutes ago.”

Naturally, this got me thinking about PR and the state of news media. Public relations has always been fast-paced and social media has only amped it up. It’s also the same for bloggers who are under intense pressure to be the first to break a story, even if it comes out at 1 a.m. We’re all nagged by the constant urge to check the text/IM/e-mail/Facebook/Twitter notification we just heard beep in the background. But is all of this “nowness” helping us or hindering us?

Working in PR requires an insane attention to detail and the ability to do 10 things at once. This is my nature and I embrace it because it makes me good at my job. If you’ve met me, you know I’m not a very Zen kind of person. I’m type A. But the call of now from all of my devices and alerts has given me pause to consider whether it’s making me a better PR professional or just a more manic one.

As it turns out, my 22-month-old had the answer. She’s been working very hard at teaching me how to be here, now. As all parents know, it’s pretty close to impossible to think about anything else when you’re in the midst of a meltdown over which pair of shoes your toddler is going to wear to the park. But in all seriousness, I get small slices of each weekday to see her, so I made a decision that during those periods: I would sign off. Cue the panic alarms!

Miraculously, my experiment is working. I am not missing anything, I’m coming up with better ideas for work, and am finding more moments to enjoy with my family. It turns out that “here and now” is more than a Letters to Cleo song. So cheers to the here and now, but please, don’t make me respond to every message within the minute. I’m silencing my notifications, pledging NOT to check messages in the park, and banning e-mail from meetings! Wish me luck.

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