When we weren’t ‘always on’

Not too long before, to use the telephone, you had to pick up a receiver, dial a number on a physical keypad and wait for the other person to answer. You touched your phone only when you either did that yourself or when somebody else dialed in your number.

In that bygone era, email wasn’t an automatic notification that popped up while you worked. Checking email was a deliberate act – you had to navigate to your email client and login each time. People didn’t have a hundred emails interrupting their workday.

When the internet first made its appearance in homes, going online was a deliberate act. You dialed in using a modem. And when you were done, you disconnected so that other people could use the telephone. Even the mere act of going online was a deliberate act.

Paying attention is also a deliberate act  – one that has receded into the background in an era of ‘always on’, when staying connected is the default setting and interruptions are the norm.

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