Paul Miller talks about going off the internet for a year which is unheard of for his generation. in this video. Interesting perspective.
After watching, I was presented with some statements and I have responded to them below.
I have to say I prefer physical reality to virtual reality. However, it moves too slowly for me and I crave the speed of being virtual. I think this change in me has been insidious but it is undeniable.
--It has pulled our focus away from daily living, from enjoying the small details of life when your quiet with your thoughts and being mindful.
I am actually in close agreement with this statement...but since I am asked to counter it I will say that I am currently having a period of time when my mindfulness is improved by my exposure to social media. I learned of a 21 day meditation created by Deepak Chopra because I follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. I joined the thousands that are meditating during these 21 days. I believe that I would not have meditated without this social media instigation. I also believe that the synchronous meditation of all these people would not have occurred without social media and I further believe that the joint meditation of so many people can have a real impact on our society. This would not have happened without social media. If it was announced on TV, it could have happened but I can’t imagine that such a thing would be announced broadly except via social media.
--It wastes precious time and energy.
Now this one I am in disagreement with. It takes a lot more time and energy to make a phone call than it does to text someone. When trying to meet up with someone in a public space, this saves frustration if you can text someone and say “arrived” or “5 minutes from there” or “where are you?” rather than call someone up and speak in complete sentences. Having a Twitter announcement go out to a group of people is more efficient than any other way I can think of to immediately inform a group of your current status. With major family announcements like funeral notifications, I use Facebook. It saves on a lot of difficult phone calls. Social media can be very helpful for keeping tabs on the events in other people’s lives without having to interrupt your own to touch base. Many of my check-ins with social media occur at the time of day that might be quite inconvenient for those people I’m checking in with. With my new AT Lab Log housed as a Facebook group. I have noticed activity when I am not online. I can respond at a time more convenient for me. At work, my student workers sometimes need flexible schedules due to their schoolwork which must be their top priority. They check in with me via social media and I have a better understanding of their life balance because of it.
--It causes grief and anxiety then we compare the lives of our social acquaintances to our own life.
It’s a pity that people feel the need to do this. I do not. If people are comparing themselves to others on social media, they probably do the same thing in their physical environments. At least on social media, you can find many members of your specific tribe easily. A small town kid who finds he is something of an outcast due to his sexual preference or disability or another stigmatized group may not know who to reach out to. Online, he could find others who are similar and be able to form a community in that way. Being anxious, an outcast, a loner or bullied has always been a problem with younger members of our world. Having social media in our lives is not the cause of those situations. Because of the sheer numbers on social media, it is LESS likely that you will feel alone in this world. I suppose a new skill that children need to be taught is to be less mindful of the number of followers, online friends or views they have and to pay more attention to real communication to those that ARE following or viewing.
--It does not begin to represent the whole picture of a persons life. It only represents a small controlled, socially acceptable glimpse.
I cannot with any conscience counter this statement since I agree with it. The reflections of our lives that are present online in social media are only the slice, big or small, that we present to the world. They do not show the whole picture. We choose to represent ourselves online in our own way and hide aspects that we deem private.
However, this is also true in our physical world. Our public persona does not begin to represent the whole picture of our lives. This is not a bad thing. We reveal what we want to about ourselves when and where we see it as appropriate. This is part of our civilization. We may have habits, beliefs, dreams, health issues and relationships that we hide from many social circles to which we belong.
One last thing about the video that I wanted to respond to was this: a year is not enough time to determine the effects of being offline...especially when one plans to go back online after a year. There is an end to it. Paul's behavior might have been quite different if he lost access to the internet permanently.