Gosh this spring I have felt so connected. When I say connected I mean to the world, to social media, to my cell phone and being a child of the generation before the internet, Facebook and seldom did I sit down and watch TV shows unless they collaborated with a stomach virus or nasty bout of a sinus infection. Of course, when I was teen that changed. The internet started making it on the scene, MTV became so cool to watch and big huge bulky cell phones with weird thick antennas or long wirey cords made their way to cars nationwide.
It felt like a good thing when it was happening. Who wouldn’t want to be more connected. You mean I could make a two hour drive while talking with my best friend about our latest relationship drama. Sign me up I said at the ripe ol’ age of 18. I have had a cell phone since.
Just a few months ago I had a conversation with my students about ways to make my class easier and the biggest suggestion was to use mobile app friendly web spaces so they can navigate classroom information, turn in papers and chat with me as needed all from the comfort of their 200-400$ cell phone. I complied (Thank you Google). I now can officially say my class, which is very much taught digitally, is now fully accessible from any 4×4 screen that has a data plan. While I am proud to boast that in my career I do question it’s value and impact on my life in general. It is leading edge and breakthrough in the academic world and really will get me the appropriate opportunity for research as a graduate student. Or at least an avenue of research to explore.
Anyone that has spent any time around my family knows technology is important. I am quite proud to say all three of my girls can and did navigate the net at the ripe ol’ age of 2-3. They are queens of handheld devices: kindle, Ipods and Dsi’s. #1 & #2 can each look up the internet and weather radar on my cell phone and # 3 has been known to text or call people unknowingly on several occasions. So she can navigate my phone more than I probably give her credit for. I used to feel embarrassed and apologize for it. Then I realized we force them to be pretty balanced with them. It is not a 24/7 thing and we forced and encourage them to see their value and worth beyond entertainment. Thankfully and proudly we have taught them that they have a tremendous amount of access and privilege that some, if not most, kids do not. The biggest pitfall I see is they want the latest and greatest but isn’t that a lesson taught more by society? Don’t we always want the latest and greatest because it is what is spoken clearly by tech companies and cell phone carriers. So I try and teach them to be happy with what they have and to realize we cannot change daily.
The downside though is I sometimes dream of the days where it was simpler. When I was not always so connected to the world and when my girls didn’t resort to an Ipod in times of boredom. When I look at my aggravation and frustrations over time a lot of them stem from a phone or computer email or Facebook. Of course, I see the good in it. I have connected with people that would have likely dropped out of my life forever. Or I am able to communicate and stay in touch with my family in ways I would have probably not had the opportunity to given the distance between us. But when we can sit behind a screen: be it a computer, phone or a tiny little status message on Twitter or Facebook, it takes away some of the ability to be personal in some of those connections. And I will be the first to attest it gives me the ability or the fearlessness to say things I would never utter in person. That is NOT always a good thing. Especially if you were on the receiving end of my lack of a filter.
So as I sat down at the computer yesterday to post my latest and greatest status update on Facebook I asked myself, “Self, would say that in person?” (Okay it wasn’t so formal but you get the point) My answer was no. I clicked the red x in the corner and I thought maybe I should leave Facebook. It allows me to be a voyeur into others lives. But it also causes me an immense amount of frustration because of hurtful things people do and say that are posted for all to see. They don’t think of me or my feelings when they are typing it. Or the plain stupidity of some of the stuff that is on Facebook. The copy and paste this status messages that waste our lives as we read them. I am not cold and heartless to their causes but is posting a long drawn out post about how if you are good person you will copy and paste this changing the face of autism? Really? This is compounded by the fact that my children are also Facebookers. I keep major dibs of their manueverings and it is hard to witness at times either because I don’t agree with what they are doing on Facebook or I see others hurt them intentionally or unintentionally. Regardless, it hurts, it frustrates, it irritates and it is sucks out precious time I could be doing something so much more valuable and memorable to my life.
So my question became why not leave. Seriously? Look at the benefits versus the hinderings and determine its actual value to my life. There honestly is not that much. I can see what everyone does every second of every day. Maybe we shouldn’t know so much about people. In 2 seconds flat my blackberry phone can have me logged on to Facebook and posting my whereabouts. How is that right? Do people really care? I am not so inclined to think people care and I am actually more inclined Facebook is more about the people who can come up with the cleverest status to garners those most attention for them. This is demonstrated daily to me. I use Facebook to be a genuine and true friend. About 6 months ago I completely ridded it all people who I would not “friend” in real life. I try to be the person they would walk up and see on the street. Not the exciting status message girl or the lastest drama relationship girl and well let’s just say those same friendships aren’t returned. There is no fault or finger pointing here. It is a lesson in real life, right? Real life we have real friends. Those are the same people who are friends in my real life. I don’t need Facebook for that reminder.
So again my question is why not leave? Because I have to keep an eye on the girls. They are too young to navigate the treacherous waters of the internet with out Momma watching. I have to keep them safe. I delete my account I delete my access to their accounts. I am in the process of trying to reason a way to make this change while still being able to watch them but not butt into their privacy. I don’t want to log into the accounts and yes I can and will if warranted.
Then add in texting. What a stinking convenience this is on our world. I started out texting maybe 5 times a month to my all time high of 3000 text messages a few months ago. While 3000 text messages makes my life seem way more exciting than it is I do wonder if maybe I am too connected. Should I really waste my time with 3000 text messages? I would argue each of those messages was extremely important but then I look through my phone and I see a whole lot of “yup” and “no kidding”. I will let you all decide what you think of the value of that.
Okay so the solution is to hang it all up right? Can I do that? Should I do that? Do I just quit resisting it so much? Can you go from embracing it and encouraging it to down right sticking your middle finger up at it? Is it better to pick up the telephone and let people you love and care about hear your voice so they can hear that love and caring? Or do I hope the words “yup” and “no kidding” translate into those meanings on their own?
And yes I know the answers to my own questions but what do I do about it? Am I too connected and how do you stop once you are there?