On May 1st of 2012, Paul Miller quit the Internet. He quit all social media, emailing, texting, surfing, everything; he did not know what life was like without being constantly connected. I am sure many people can relate to this. I, for one, am excellent at texting people back because my phone is always on me, but don’t count on me to be constantly checking my emails, Instagram, and sometimes even Twitter and Facebook. Back to Paul, he had the desire to get things done; if he quit the Internet, he would have more free time. He asked himself “How does the Internet use me, and how do I use the internet?“. I have been thinking about this, and think I know how to answer it for myself.
I use the Internet like this– I will be innocently scrolling through my Facebook, or even when watching a Youtube video for class or something – the Internet uses me like this – and ads will show up on the sidebars or as random posts. The ads will be of online stores I visit often. (*Time for a confession, my name is Ashton, and I am a shopaholic*) My Internet tracking is off, yet the Internet and social sites still know where I go and what I do! Clearly they will track me whether I want them to or not. When shopping, I don’t even check for sales or anything, I just look for things I like. This is where I am not very mindful. If I see something I really like, and I feel like I have to have it, I block out everything around me, find my card, and get it ordered. I don’t think about who could have access to my credit card number, my address, my name, even my license (I collect miniature liquor bottles -not for consumption-and one site required that I scan my license when I paid)! Recently I have been trying to be much more careful (mostly because of dig lit class).
When surfing the Internet, I am typically not doing anything productive (notice the picture above has a phone and a pen in it!) unless I am working on my classes. Basically everyone in my family multitasks. At night, we all sit in the living room with the TV on, and we look at our phones, iPads, or laptops while trying to watch TV and have conversations. Do we really need to try doing all three things at once? It did not used to be that way. I feel like this would be a good time to stop multitasking. We need to put our devices down and either watch TV or have a conversation.
Paul Miller said that the Internet is valuable and awesome, but we take it for granted. We rely on it way too heavily; socially, we are connected and disconnected at the same time. Connected because we can see and talk to people online, disconnected because we forget to talk to the people we see in public. We forget what is important; we are not as emotionally available, we do not truly listen to people. This is when we need to be more attentive. At a social gathering, put your phone away! You are there to socialize with the people around you, not look at your phone to see what your friends are posting. I feel we are truly present when we are able to turn our phones off or put them in our pocket, not worry or think about them, and then really listen and have a conversation with someone.
We lose so much by being permanently tethered to our devices. We need to recognize that technology distracts us from important things such as connecting with our peers and our families, and it prevents us from enjoying a moment or being creative. Without our devices, we would be more ready and willing to connect with our friends and families, children could even become more dependent on their parents for answers and advice, because often times, they turn to the Internet for answers rather than a real person.
Everything above is an example of what can be learned from the 2 readings and TED talk this week. The most important thing that was learned is that, if we were to take a step back and limit or even eliminate some of our Internet use, we would be able to connect with people on a different level. We would lose some stress, feel a bit of freedom, and be able to really, truly connect with someone.
If you need help simplifying your life using the Internet click HERE.