Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., (www.intermat.tv)
a television company which executive produces programs and consults
with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc.
is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television
in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the
Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery
Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery
Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted
Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation
Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
August 22, 2007
Post vacation reflections upon digital demands
I went away for a few days to spend some time with people
close to me, some who are family and others who are close
to me as family. It was to be my first down time in months.
However, the way the world works today we are never cut off.
My first two days were largely spent in client conference
calls, circling on finding a solution to what seemed an insoluble
situation. Eventually, thankfully, we did. However, when asked
by someone at the beginning of a call how my vacation was
going, I could only respond: my vacation is like work but
in another location.
After a three hour conference call, my client promised not
to call me again. Only seven minutes later we were talking
Eventually, at a Thursday night cocktail party, my best friend
Tom Fudali warned me with that steely glint he can get in
his eyes, that if I didnt put the damn thing away, he
was going to take it away from me. Sheepishly, I complied,
knowing he was right and that I was having trouble with addiction
to connectivity. Hello, my name is Mathew and I am addicted
to connectivity. I become physically agitated when withdrawn
from my normal torrent of data bits, e-mail and phone, all
coming together in that delightful little electronic drug
called a Blackberry, waggishly called by many: the Crackberry.
After that, I withdrew from the digital world as much as I
could and enjoyed the people that I was with but it also caused
me to step back and think of how I live my life. I am surrounded
by people huddled over their Trios and Blackberries at every
moment theyre not doing something else. And I am right
there with them.
Yet the relative silence that came when I stepped away allowed
me to appreciate the people I was with and the time I was
spending with them. One night at dinner, I put my phone in
another room and left it on quiet. [Yeah, I snuck a look at
it when I went to the bathroom but the little buzzes on my
belt werent there and therefore couldnt distract
from the ravishing enjoyment of dinner with old friends.]
Technologically separated, I looked at newspapers and read
them like a civilian, instead of scanning them for ideas for
television projects. I heard the voices of my friends and
engaged in conversations. I was not immediately notified of
the latest surge in civilian deaths in Iraq or the burgeoning
numbers of soldiers who were dying or being maimed. I was
able to have conversations with my friends about those events
and to think about those events.
We are so engaged with the flow of information from our Blackberries,
our computers, from the radio and television screens, that
we may know a great deal of facts but we seem to take no time
to make personal, intellectual contextual sense of all of
it because we are so busy getting facts we have no time to
absorb the meaning of those facts. It is a malaise that is
running through the bloodstream of the technologically oriented
populations of every country. We are so busy dealing with
our digital demands and the inbound flow over the digital
roads of information; we cannot parse the information or make
much sense of it.
Yet we cannot live without these devices unless we want to
be contemporary Thoreaus and retreat to our Walden Ponds and
ignore the rest of the universe. That is not a luxury life
is allowing me right now; I dont suspect it will ever
be. I dont suspect it will be for very many of us. However,
it will be important that I imbed the lesson learned when
Tom threatened to rip the Blackberry from me. It is important
not just to know the digital flow; it is important to know
the person next to you.