Thursday, January 06, 2011

Wandering Digitally into the Abyss

One of my (and one of my sister's) new year's resolutions, is to observe my use of the Internet. Too often, and too easily, I find that I can get lost. My curiosity leads me from one thing to the next, idle observation leads me down the digital rabbit hole and, soon, I find myself in loops of negative thinking that are far from helpful. I click on photo albums of people I know peripherally, I check my blogroll on GoogleReader, etc. etc. etc. It all happens so fast, it all happens so easily, and I don't always feel good about it all.

Coming home on the plane from London, I observed a similar pattern of behavior. At my fingertips, I had movies and TV shows, music and radio stations, all so readily available. I must have watched three movies on the flight back, taking up most of my time. I started to feel a little nuts, burning eyes, over-stimulated. Once again, all too easily.

It is like some sort of 21st-century mania. There is a myth (or perhaps not a myth at all) of limitless availability along with a shrinking attention span. There are tons of movies and TV shows out there. Doesn't mean we have to watch them all. There are millions of people out there, yes. But we can't ever know but a handful. Knowing people well involves time, energy, geographical proximity. We can have connections and nurture them, but the illusion of the instantaneous can never replace the journey of evolving relationships.

There is so much to see. There is so much to be research. On the Internet, I sit on the park bench observing life. Except this is a digital park bench and a digital life that streams by endlessly. Where does it stop? At a certain point, this digital world can become too immaterial and rootless.

What I want is reality. No, what I want is a reality complemented by this digital world. The Internet is a tool, to broaden knowledge, to broaden relationships. To broaden the real. I feel like I am in an age that continues to progress technologically. I am also in an age that needs to be very self-aware in order to define the holistic, wholesome uses of that technology, which can be an incredible tool, but can also be an incredible hindrance.

The Internet, I find, leads me away from the introverted life that I am compelled to live. In searching and Google-ing, in scanning Facebook, there is this outward seeking, one that denies selfhood if taken too far. I feel that if I limit my online time, I can better focused on my self and better use the Internet as a tool.

So in 2011, I will observe how I spend time online, I will hope to spend less time online (at least less time that is less productive; less vagaries). I will trust more in patience, in time, in the steady unfolding of journeys (relationships that may be nudged together by the Internet - but will always need time in reality). I believe that my relationship with technology can be a healthy one that involves sharing, communicating and networking. I simply need to be more self-aware, more self-controlled in order to feel at the helm of my life, both facing the world and facing the screen.


BoruttaNY said...

As always, very astute for someone your age. I don't mean to patronize. I have met you in person - your aura says so much.

That aura though, is visible through the internet and all the semi-real connections you make there.

One thing I offer to you is to keep in mind that there may be people, like yourself, looking to see what you are up to via the internet. Your presence can create and inspire good things in others.

So I ask selfishly, observe - but please do not disappear from the 'net!

Stefan said...

Thanks for your comment.

I did find it ironic, while writing, that I was writing a blog post. But I consider it a way to constructively use the Internet.

The beginning of a good example.

ewa monika zebrowski said...

think of the dictionary meaning of net!
are we going to be caught?
many of us... the net offers exciting possibilities to connect, to do research, to feel informed, to stay in touch.
the problem is to limit one's daily use. an hour or two?
and to take the time to look outward, beyond...see the stars and the moon and the beauty around...EMZ