July 10, 2013

Warning! Walking Away From the Internet Might Force You to Interact With Real, Live Humans.

When social media isn’t enough.

These days, nearly all of us are guilty of spending too much time on computers, phones and technological devices in general.

But what is “too much time?”

My answer to that is pretty straight-forward.

You are spending too much time on the internet if it’s keeping you from engaging with real, live human beings.

Like I said, though, we’re all guilty. I’m not passing judgment. Actually, the entire reason that I’m writing this to get us—myself included—thinking about what exactly it is that we’re gaining from social media, and the internet, in general.

I’ve written about this topic before, but instead of regurgitating my previous thoughts to you I’d like to go in a slightly different direction. 

I was once turned on to the thinking that people participate in relationships because they serve that individual’s needs.

In other words, you witness someone in a relationship, possibly a marriage, that you think is dysfunction. Yet, that relationship is serving a purpose for the people within it.

What “needs,” then, are you fulfilling by hopping online?

Take Facebook, for example.

Some use Facebook to get the attention that they’re lacking or to project a certain, desired image out into the world.

Others use it to complain or stir up drama.

Work is yet another option (like the fact that I’ll end up sharing this on my own Facebook page).

On top of all of these valid possibilities, there’s genuine friendship.

One of my dearest friends lives in Sweden, for example, and because of my many moves I have friends all over that I want to keep in touch with—my own family is over two hours away from where I’ve made a home to rear my child, and they want to see pictures of her.

I’m on the internet quite a lot for someone who doesn’t even have a Smartphone.

Have you ever spent time thinking about what it is that you’re gaining from opening up your cell or your laptop? If not, what are you avoiding?

Maybe it’s easier to create that image of someone cheery and adorable than it is to actually get out there and meet friends in 3-D.

Moreover, I think that for many of us the internet is a habit—and that’s what I’m trying to pay attention to in my own life.

Lately, I find myself asking when do I open my laptop simply because it’s there staring me in the face, it’s something to do, and it’s about time for me to check my email or respond to reader comments underneath my articles?

Because, the thing is, there’s a real world waiting out there for me to interact with it, to play a starring role in my own life story, and sometimes I fear that I’m missing out on an important part because I’ve wasted time looking at pictures of your dog’s surgery scars or my own cute daughter’s pictures when she’s right there beside me anyways.

We share pictures, words, thoughts and dreams out there with the world in a way that we can’t in our own small realities without this hooked-up community. We’ve developed a global system, and much of our original means of communication just aren’t good enough anymore—and, honestly, many other societal systems aren’t good enough either.

Religion, for one.

The way that I see it, religion was created for God to speak to people in ways that they can understand.

Religion serves the purpose of creating a moral compass for an entire group. It’s also my thinking that nearly all religions are equally “right” and wrong—because, in a way, they too are a communication network set up to connect people and God.

Yet, now, with our global community, religion causes fighting, wars and petty arguments.

We have so many cultures spread out around our world, and we’re all still very different even though we’re united on this larger scale—and religions do not function to create a healthy society for us like they once did when we had less of an idea what was happening across the ponds.

And how does all of this—my semi-rambling thoughts—connect with my original point about the internet and its keeping us from real, live person-to-person interaction?

Here’s my larger concept, put more simply: when we connect with the internet, especially in order to socially “interact,” then we’re by default stepping away from having a real conversation with the person on the couch—or in the red, plastic Cozy Coup toy car, as my case may be.

I’m a blogger, for Godsakes—I’m by no means suggesting that we stop being this large-scale community that connects online because, quite frankly, we have no other choice.

I’m merely offering that we also not forget that there are people right here, right now, right in front of us who are craving our undivided attention—and that it’s definitely possible that these various online markets are, in fact, dividing our attention from them, and from our “real” lives.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I must sign off, but don’t worry, I’ll be back—and I might even share a picture of that tiny girl in her Flintstones-esque car when I am.

What I won’t do, though, is forget who’s more important in the grand scheme of things, and in the grand scheme of my heart—and she’s right across the room picking out a book for us to read as soon as I’m done here.

“One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.” ~ Oscar Wilde


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via Pinterest}

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