Monday, February 8, 2010

Not Using the Internet: A Summary

My main conclusion: This little mini retreat from online-technology has taught me to appreciate- and be cautious of it. In not being able to use social networking sites, email and other online services, I have become more mindful of how these technologies should be used.

The Blessings:
Staying in touch: Although not constantly checking facebook was a relief, I found myself wondering how family members and close friends were doing. I acknowledged the fact that if I had stayed offline longer, I would have felt out of touch, and after a longer period of time, a little lonely and isolated.

Complete tasks quickly and efficiently: This is one of the main joys of using the internet- making things simple!! Check your bank account, email a friend, send an attachment, check the daily news, look up a recipe, collaborate on a project; all these things we are now able to do in minutes, even seconds, where in the past, many of these activities would take at least an hour to complete. We should all be thankful for such helpful technology, as it allows us to spend more time with our family, loved ones, and on our own self improvement . . . right?

Sharing and communicating ideas: Sites like twitter, blogger, wordpress, and other such forums are a great way to share ideas and ask questions with both like-minded (and not like-minded) individuals. The world has grown exponentially smaller since the www revolution, and will continue to do so. Being privy to such a free exchange of ideas is an unstoppable force, even in the face of tyranny. We have recently seen young people in Iran use technology in their struggle to become part of a free nation. All of us, free or struggling, should rejoice in this fact.  

What we can avoid:
Using the internet as a distraction from an unpleasant/boring task, or worse, from daily life: I have never been a fan of online games, and it is for this reason. Sure, play a game of solitaire, sudoku, or even online chess for mental stimulation, but I see a big problem with having one's face to the screen for hours, as life - and it's many opportunities- pass by.

Ditto: But this time in reference to social networking sites, and yes, twitter. I praised them above, but they are truly double-edged swords. Sites like facebook and myspace are addictive in their instant gratification of our desire to know "what's new?". We should be vigilant of this, and moreover be mindful in our use of these online social tools.

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