Between routine doctor’s appointments, preparations for the launch of the Woodstock Chapter of the Public Speakers Association, a Toastmasters contest next week and other offline commitments it’s a busy week.
Compared to people with children at school and long commutes to jobs, my life is quite simple. However when a busy week like this one does come around, it makes me wonder how much of our busyness we create unnecessarily. How much of that is caused by the distractions of the on-line world, smart phones, social media and the apparent need to be constantly in virtual contact with virtual friends by voice or text.
Fortunately as a baby boomer, I was an early user of MS-Dos, and basic programmes. Unlike many of my generation, I was comfortable with computers but I did not become enslaved by them. Living in a country where internet access was difficult, slow and very expensive, I did not become addicted to the fascination of chat rooms and other early virtual connections that others did.
Working from home, I find it easier to use a desktop computer and land line for my business. When I do go out, I take a cell phone for emergency use only. Most days I forget to switch it on. A few years ago when I was spending more time away from my home office, I got a Blackberry thinking it might help me be more efficient as I could check emails if I had time to spare.
As I was locked into a contract, I still have the Blackberry, but I have disabled, text, internet access and all emails except one for emergency. Now it is just a cell phone and will be swapped for a smaller more convenient one when the contract expires next month.
The sight of people of all ages from school children to those of my generation and older, walking, driving, cycling and sitting in restaurants with thumbs busy texting or phones glued to ears makes me wonder if they are all going crazy, deliberately making their lives more stressed with all this virtual connecting and less real connecting.
Is this some plot by aliens from outer space to reduce our resistance to a planned invasion from outer space in the future? Conquest by stealth because the defenders were too busy texting and playing with smart little gadgets?
Seriously, I have to wonder at the long-term implications for society and the effect on individual’s ability to survive if the internet was to be shut down for an extended period.
What is the effect of this constant connectedness on resilience, ability to overcome adversity, to think of possible solutions to problems and make the best choices of action to take? How will people survive without the use of any electronic gadgets?
A friend sent me this poster which sums it up very nicely.
Only those of us born before 1985 have experienced the world with and without the Internet. In 50 or 60 years we will all be gone and everyone will feel as if it has always been around.
It’s sad that fewer people are enjoying real face-to-face conversation, people are reading fewer books – some indications are that 50% of Americans under 24 read no books for pleasure.