I am SO guilty of this. What starts out as a legitimate online search for education related information turns into a “Recipes I Want to Try” Pinterest pinning/hoardfest. I have papers to write, checks to prepare for school, laundry, dishes, my next online class lesson (you get the picture). Years ago, we might turn on the TV and watch a show for distractions, but now we have this whole world we don’t even have to move to experience. As I sit here, my son is in his room preparing a heist that will take him and his online group to some warehouse to blow things up and save the world from the evils of gangs. My daughter is working as a cashier in a pizza shop in an online game and I am sitting at my computer typing this.
I have ten tabs open on my computer. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are the first three. Always there, tempting me with their little numbers in parentheses. My fitness band online app to keep track of every step I take, how many minutes I’ve slept and everything I’ve eaten or drank. My online class is there, looking at me, wondering why I’m not done my lesson from Friday when it’s Sunday already. The weather page, keeping me up to date every minute. Etc.
I see myself in the articles I read about media saturation. We are all getting sucked deeper and deeper into our computer lives and less involved in the “real” world. Sure, we go to the store, we spend snippets of time with our friends and family, but it seems we are slowly separating from our real selves and digitizing our lives. We are redefining the word friend. We’re invited to “Online [Insert Direct Sales Company Name] Party! Spend $30 and Get a Free Gift!” instead of going to someone’s home. All of our photos are compartmentalized in little albums on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We don’t talk to each other anymore. We say we do, but it’s a text or an email.
Don’t get me wrong. Social media and sharing has a wonderful side. How many times have we all shared a photo of a missing child and rejoiced when they are found? How about the heartwarming stories we see videos and photos of that we might never have seen otherwise? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat here and cried or smiled or my mood was brightened by someone thinking of their friends and posting something beautiful. We’re able to keep in touch with people around the world. I can sit here and type something and a friend in Australia, on the other side of the world sees at at the same time and can click to respond instantly. There is a marvelous nature to all of this technology that I think initially draws us in, but sometimes what keeps us here, keeps us from seeing the other things around us, things we used to do ALL the time but are forgetting.
Ok, not that I would use IE, but I thought that was amusing. Sometimes I try to close things and walk away, take a breather. I often find myself being drawn back in or perhaps even choosing another technology to replace it. When I’m waiting to be seated at a restaurant or waiting to be called back for a doctor’s appointment, I look around and everyone is on their phones, browsing, talking, texting, listening to music. We are shutting each other out. We need to loosen the apron strings of this parental technology and experience the world around us. It’s been a long, cold winter for many of us and perhaps we need to have a Real Life Spring.