Saturday, January 9, 2010

Life Online

I just read this article from last Tuesday's Globe and Mail. It's not surprising to me that digital "detoxing" is becoming a trend now. Our lives are becoming so digitized ( digitalized?) that it only makes sense that some of us are going to stop and say, "Hey, is this really good for me? What am I really gaining from living so much of my life online?"

The article from the Globe specifically talks about deleting your Facebook account, but it generally discusses the effect spending so much fragmented time online, with "tools" such as Twitter and Facebook. One of the people quoted in the article emphasizes the fact that focusing on too many things at once seriously effects most people's ability to get anything done. And once that happens, people start to lose energy and enthusiasm for their work. This point resonated so deeply with me. I have never been very good at multi-taksing and at times, I've felt bad about that. Even in conversation, I can lose my train of thought and the points I want to make very quickly if the subject is changed or if I am inturrupted. This means that fast-paced commucnication like Twitter and Facebook don't go over well with me. It feels like a lot of meaningless noise. The buzz of everybody trying to keep up with each other what's hot right now. It actually makes me wonder if we're all going crazy if this is how we prefer to communicate. IM, SMS, Twitter, FB, MySpace, these mediums make people feel more connected to anyone? Really?

I think businesses are benefitting from these tools the most because it's humanizing them. Customers can directly address someone who has power at the organization they are talking to, rather than calling a automated answering machine to leave a complaint that will get lost in the great voicemail void. But I think it's working the opposite way for individuals- we're getting more and more impersonal with each other all the time. Social media is supposed to be bringing us closer together, but I really don't see that happening. Sure, we all talk to a larger number of people now, but how meaningful are our interactions?

I know there's no particular answer to these questions out there, but I think it's important that we all keep asking ourselves what we truly get out of living so much life online. The glow of a computer screen just can't compete with the sunlight.

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