Indian sunset by Asa Aarons

If the phrase "always on, always connected" doesn't give you anxiety, then it just might give you inspiration. At least that's what the organizers of Social Media Week (SMW) are hoping.

The theme of this year's global event, happening right now in eight cities on four continents, is The Future of Now … and yes, you guessed it. Now is defined as constant, pervasive, unstoppable hyper-connectivity. Think about it, from the perspective of the SMW organizers:

Communication technology unites us, relays news equally with opinion, transports us to worldwide events and shrinks distances between our relationships. We’re tuning into events that we’ve never before been able to access and witnessing other people’s experiences unfold in real time.

It's enough to make your head swim … or your heart sink. What's it all about? Can I create infinite connections without burning out?

So Much Data, So Little Meaning

Information is ubiquitous, immediate and immersive. What are we supposed to do with all this data that alternately seizes our attention and scatters it, invites us reflexively share the smallest details of our lives, and stokes equally intense feelings of acceptance and anxiety?

The question is no longer, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

The question now is, "If we immerse ourselves in information but never slow down to think deeply about it, does it create anything more than background noise?"

It's hard to argue the obvious: Social media and mobile technologies have changed the global communications paradigm by shrinking the world, accelerating time and extending the possibilities of relationships and connections.

The SMW team notes that "these technologies help us multitask, search news and browse several activity feeds at once. Although we’re unable to extend time, we’re doing our best to pack more into every second, reacting and responding to natural disasters, self-organizing at an incredible speed. Furthermore, businesses and brands can more quickly react to customer complaints, address supply chain problems, and engage new consumers."

Do you understand the new realities, and, more importantly, are you capitalizing on them to advance your life, your career and the companies and brands you represent? Odds are, you're not — and Social Media Week wants to help.

A Worldwide Event, Local Presence

Social Media Week runs today through Friday in eight cities in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America: Bangalore, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Milan, New York and Tokyo.

Taking place twice a year (in February and September) for the past six years, Social Media Week was created to explore the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. The host cities change but the mission of SMW remains the same: It's help to "help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information."