What do you do most of the time you are online? Apart from reading hongkiat.com that is. Blogging, designing, emailing, gaming, pinning, reading, socializing, surfing, watching videos, writing reviews… take your pick. Even when we’re not in front of the personal computer or laptop, we may have a phone on one ear, and a tablet on the other arm.
Now, quickly, what do you do when you are not connected to the Internet? I hope it’s not a politically correct answer that you just made up on the spot. Most of us who make our living on the Web also use it for our leisurely activities, namely playing games, armchair-socializing and probably stalking exes, which as you can probably tell are not very healthy activities. Our tendency to favour gadgets, text and images over real life could well be the tip of the iceberg of problems to come.
In this article we will briefly touch on a few things that the Internet and our addiction to it is ruining for us – and why there exists an urgent need to disconnect from the Web to reconnect with humanity.
I was suffering through a short bout of ‘computer fatigue’ the other day – oh, it’s a real collection of symptoms, believe me, but I doubt it would be enough to get you off of work. You may have even experienced it yourself: the strain persists on the bridge of your nose, the area between the eyes; blurry vision, a metallic taste in your mouth, headaches and slight dizziness – all at a degree that doesn’t justify a run to the doctors but that still affects your productivity enough to make you sit up and take notice.
After spending on average 13 hours a day in front of the computer, I was craving to go back to working on print i.e. paper; at least until I feel better. A torturous week later, I found the cure: a 12-hour long-awaited sleep marathon. All the symptoms I had been having disappeared the next morning. Part of the benefits of having a boss who understands freelancing, is that they let inadequacies like this slide. But I believe a plea to take better care of your health is justifiable seeing how easy and relevant it is for this section to be describing you as it was, me.
Family and friends
Never mix business with pleasure, they say. I wonder where you slot ‘family’ into this equation. Even when working in a 9-to-5 setting, most of us are finding less and less time to spend with our spouses and children. Things get worse when you start hanging around on the Web. The more we are connected to the Internet, be it to reply emails, read blogs, surf social networking sites, or tend to our hobbies via PC, mobile or tablet, the less time we have for the people around us.
Despite having hundreds (or even thousands) of friends on Facebook, how many of them do you normally go out for drinks with? And even when you do, how much face-to-face time do you give each other? Chances are, upon sitting down and making your order, you would both whip out your smartphones and start swiping through your daily tabs, news, tweets and messages before finding something to talk about with your drinking buddy. Chances are, you spend more time communicating through your friends on your phone than with your friends who are physically right in front of you. In short, the faster you connect to a nearby Wi-Fi connection, the faster you disconnect from the physical world.
"There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns." – Edward de Bono.
When you think about it, you need ideas to make advancements and innovations. From these technological advancements, we progress as a society. Thus, it is crucial to make sure that the ideas keep coming, and for that we need creativity. Creative ideas are original – sometimes a spin-off of something that is already in existence, other times ground-breaking on its own, take for instance, quantum physics, the power of flight, electricity, and in a more modern context, the tablet. It’s amazing what the human mind can do… as long as it can stop resorting to copying ideas and start thinking on its own.
Originality vs Sharing
With our inclination to ‘share’ things – apparently because we care – there isn’t a need, a push or any form of motivation to write, compose, design or come up with original ideas anymore. Why change something that works, right? Today we see students and academicians rely heavily on Wikipedia to do research, blogs copying and feeding off other blogs, memes and rage comics rehashing old jokes that have been around since the birth of the Internet and Youtube filled with song covers by eager (yet still very talented) youngsters.
If you don’t think this ‘sharing is caring’ nature is serious enough to be worth your time, get this: not only was 2012 hailed as the year of the sequel, there are (more than) 95 movie sequels in the works and at least 50 movies that are going to be given a remake. And that is just the movie industry. We see the same problem in music (covers and mash-ups) and books (see originality of Hunger Games). This begs the question: are we running out of new ideas? If we are, this and the fact that Credit seems to mean nothing on the Web may prove Edward de Bono’s quote true.
Unplugging from the Web
Technology is a very alluring mistress. It gives you what you want, when you want it and without even putting up a fight. Nowadays, you may feel that it can be tough to go a day without your mobile phone, checking for RTs, shooting your rivals or posting a picture of your latest meal. But as we get to the weekends, there really should be a time for us to unplug from the virtual world and get back in touch with our physical self as well as with the people around us and the environment.
Pen something without the need for people to comment or give you feedback on it; learn to play a new musical instrument or just grab a book from the shelf before reading up a review about it first. Go on a road trip with your girlfriend, or kids or your mom, or invite your college buddies to go camping, fishing or abseiling with you. Be adventurous and try doing something for yourself that does not involve signing up or logging into a site. Leave your electronics behind or if you can’t get out of the house long enough for a trip, disable your Wi-Fi and reconnect with yourself via meditation, a bubble bath or just by whipping up a nice salad for yourself.
We’re social beings and despite having social networks to do our social biddings for us, you know that sometimes sharing a cuppa with a friend while you hide away from the pitter-patter of the rain in a café with a nice ambience and good music can be a more rewarding experience than you ever thought it could be. And if there is one thing that people can offer you, which technology can’t, is emotional and moral support, and the motivation to continue striving. And there’s nothing tech can do about that.
(Images courtesy of WynterSui, exclusively for hongkiat.com)
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- A Trip Down The Internet Memory Lane