Let’s just say it, the internet is awesome in a variety of forms. The ability to order a product located one-thousand miles away, have it processed and shipped in an hour is great. The ability to find relevant articles in seconds is mind bending, an armed service member able to Skype with his family from around the globe is touching, and a community of passionate individuals able to effectively collaborate online is a utility newly discovered. All of these and myriad other uses are great, but how often do we utilize the internet for advantages such as these? I know I use it more as a time filler rather than using it for these things, and I think a lot of people would agree they do this too. I’ve learned this week that healthy internet use is all a matter of discipline and perspective.
I’ve came to the conclusion this week that the utility of the internet has to be recognized through disconnecting. Look at Paul Miller, this man disconnected for an entire year (only to play a lot of video games, which I found perplexing) and through that he recognized the utility of the internet, and what he had missed out on by not having the internet. I think that by disconnecting a person acknowledges what is truly meaningful to them, and then, when they reconnect, they use the internet as a tool to supply that meaning. This of course is all personal speculation, and may come off with a fluffy zen tone, but I truly believe this to be the case in many situations. When people are constantly on social media and connected to the virtual world, they may only claim allegiance to the social media personality that they have created. This isn’t absolute, but if everyone is constantly aware of your life then you may be searching for validation in the wrong sphere. This happens across all age groups, and people have to realize that it is okay to play some things close to the chest.
The article assigned this week by Leo Babauta had some great suggestions for simplifying your life. I, especially, liked the points to pick a handful of online reading sources and to limit yourself to one or two social media sites. Small suggestions like this help us to become better learners. Not only do we learn more about our world, but we can also investigate ourselves. I’ve found that I’m terrible about using the Internet intermittently while studying. Some days I have the discipline to buckle down for one hour without technology, and other days it seems I can go for four or five hours. Usually it depends upon the subject. But I feel like my learning time is so much more useful when I have the discipline to engage with a learning topic, solely. I’m also learning that it is not good to “reward” myself with internet usage, such as Netflix or whatever time consuming device is out there. I find a day much more fulfilling, when I will dose myself with a reward that gets me up and doing something. When I’m done doing that I can come back and hit the books with a renewed interest. Not only that, my renewed interest results in using the internet as an education device, rather than a time consuming one.
The biggest thing we lose when connected to the internet is time: one of life’s greatest commodities. It’s so hard to use the internet only as a utility (I could hardly imagine life without Spotify now that I’ve had it for two years), but we must strive to do so in order to get the things done that are and will be worth our time.