Connectivity Quotient

Submitted by Marg Rose, Director of Community Initiatives and Grants, Victoria Foundation, Victoria, B.C.

“The greater your connectivity quotient, the more easily you connect meaningfully with others.”

Tony Proscio responds:

Here’s one sure sign you’re getting old (bet you really wanted one more of those, didn’t you?): People start complaining about clichés and tired old worn-out jargon that you’ve never heard even once.

So today it happened to me. Someone wrote in complaining of the overuse of “connectivity quotient.” Say what? Overuse? Not only had I never heard “connectivity quotient” used, and not only did I have no idea what it could possibly mean, but I couldn’t imagine how to stick it into a sentence even if I completely made one up.

“I’d like the roast salmon with fennel and a connectivity quotient on the side”? No, probably not that. Maybe, “I’ve reviewed the data on the juvenile-court-reform program, but we’re missing a connectivity quotient.” Sounds more likely, but still a bit off. “I just took out a second mortgage to buy a cell-phone, which boosts my connectivity quotient.” Ah, now there I may be on to something.

“Job-market credibility and career-positioning,” wrote the Vancouver Sun in early 2010, “are tied to how well-connected you are. Call it your ‘connectivity quotient.’ A high connectivity quotient — above 90 percent — means you’re … armed with the newest and finest connectivity gadgets. It demonstrates that you understand their importance and are willing to buy the best.”

So it turns out that “connectivity quotient” is just an index of how enthralled you are by expensive gizmos that disturb your sleep, annoy other passengers on the train, and obliterate all customary notions of privacy and solitude. OK, got it. I still have no idea what the numerator and denominator may be in this “quotient” (the price of your smart-phone and Bluetooth headset divided by the national debt?). But whatever they are, I fear my own CQ may clock out a tad below 90 percent.

Sorry, but to my ear this is not a bad expression. It may sound a bit self-conscious, showy, and needlessly mathematical. But those characteristics seem apt. They are a pretty good description not only of the phrase, but of the people it describes: techno-peacocks whose idea of “connection” is just another form of aggressively conspicuous consumption.

Evidently, poor E.M. Forster got it wrong. His maxim from Howard’s End, “only connect,” was way too simple. Should have written: “Connect — but spend a fortune doing it, boost your Quotient, and then make sure you annoy the hell out of everyone.”

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