I don’t know if you’ve seen this ad or not, but it keeps popping up on my TV screen (and yes, I do watch a lot of TV and am not going to apologize for that). It lists all sorts of things that are happening now; things like:
– 43 million cell phone calls are being made
– 380,000 people just hung up
– 1 billion emails are en route
– 7% of them contain the words “Miracle Banana Diet”
– They’re hitting 63,000 spam filters.
– 233,000 people just Twittered on Twitter
– 26% of you viewing this have no idea what that means.
Have a look, if you don’t mind watching a commercial.
My point is that I have this sense of just being utterly overwhelmed with information and it’s taking up far too much energy to feel that I’m staying on top of what’s happening.
Then there’s the other niggling question: why do I need to know all of this? I don’t want to sound like a luddite or anything but I just don’t see how the quality of life is being enhanced by the sheer amount of information “dump” we’re facing these days.
I often wonder what life was like pre-Google. Did we all walk around in total ignorance? Were we just satisfied with knowing so little? Were we less able to relate to each other, care for each other, understand each other? Did we want less or just not have to struggle with wanting what we don’t have?
One of the things I loved about being in Antarctica in December was that I was cut off from all of this. Hard to imagine that I went nearly three weeks without any access to the internet but I did … and it was good. Yet here I am, using a blog to figure out how I really feel about all of this. Confusing? Yes.
Thing is, when it comes to technology I can be quite the addict. Let me go back a few years. When my children were growing up they – poor things – lived in a “Nintendo-Free” zone. And then a friend of mine who was going on vacation gave my son his Nintendo to use while he was away. It was a done deal before I could intervene so there it was, attached to the TV in the basement. One day, while Motti was at school, I decided to pop downstairs (I was working from home on some lectures) and check out what Nintendo was really all about; was it as evil as I thought? I went down around 9:30 in the morning and came back upstairs around 3:30 … just before Motti’s return from school. By then I had what I could only call Nintendo-thumb (in the sense of tennis elbow); both of my thumbs were so sore from playing Mario all day that I could barely bend them. Yup … out of control. In fact, even in writing this post I googled Mario and found that I could access free online Mario. It’s only because I have to go out shortly – and of course I’m both older and wiser (I hope) – that I was able to play for only 10 minutes; otherwise I’d have undoubtedly found myself playing for hours and then making excuses for why I didn’t get over to my Mother’s for a visit. Oh my!
In general, I do think I’m getting much better. It’s usually 15 or 20 minutes after I wake up that I first check “the net” and my e-mail (a year ago it was absolutely the first thing I did every morning). Thanks to (or should I be blaming?) my iPhone I’m connected all of the time now so I admit that you can find me stopped at a red light checking e-mail or on the subway looking up some new term I’ve just heard. But I turn the phone off when I get home; I want to celebrate that moment each day when I make a separation between “out there” time and “in here” time.
That said, I’m thinking that just maybe my days would be more productive – in the ways that I want – if I limited my internet time. Thinking, not doing yet. But maybe soon.