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UN-SOCIAL MEDIA: Pulling the Electronic Plug

Think about this: 

Could you cut off all your connectivity from your cell  phone, smart phone, notebook, computers, and all other electronic hand-held devices?  An unplugged life.

Could you live without e-mail, texts, sexts, Tweets, YouTube, Facebook, Linked-in, and mobile messaging?

Inconceivable, you say?  Horrible and isolating?  The end of your personal, business, friendship and love life? Your pulse is in a panic, your heart's beating triple-time just thinking about it, let alone taking any action?

Join the crowd--you're a full-fledged member of the distracted nation. Many of us are so plugged in these days that we're forgetting how to have face-to-face conversations without our fingers and minds performing actions other than what our mouths are saying.

Is this a problem?

Some sociologists and psychologists says yes—we've become a nation of distracted, multi-tasking, text-mad, cyber-gobbling addicts.  Others shrug and say, "So what?  This is what life's like. Live with it."

Me, I don't know...could I live without Google and information?  Am I an information junkie?  Maybe so.  I worry about this.  So much time spent on the 'net.  Sometimes the ring of the phone annoys me—interrupting my Google searches and 'net reading.  Email me if you want to reach me. This cannot be good.

Too much time on Facebook instead of real face time with friends is beginning to worry me, too.  Sure, I've seen your posted vacation pictures—have you seen mine? But what are you thinking—and feeling?  How are you...really?

Distracted. Rarely am I here

I grew up with philosopher-gurus such as Ram Dass who urged us to "Be here now," and I've books on my bookshelf such as Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now. But rarely am I  “here now”  any more.  How could I be when I'm over there—keyboarding in cyber space?

Have I become way too personal with my personal computer? Surely it's become my greatest source of information—and entertainment.

Up until now I've avoided smart phone ownership.  The hand-writing's on the wall--I'd always be connected, every second, everywhere I go on by my electronic leash.  Seems I'm wired that way.  Many of us are.

I'd be just like the character in a science fiction short story I read years ago—was it by Asimov?  The tale told of a boy nerd who loved his personal computer so very much.  He spent every waking minute on it.  As this story was written was years before personal computers were in existence--the story was quite prescient.

All their son's computing time worried his parents.  The boy would hardly eat, wasn't sleeping.  The boy's parents hovered worriedly at his door. The boy waved his parents away. "Not a problem," he assured them.

But his parents had reason to worry. One morning, they went into the boy's room and found the computer's cable had entered their son's body— he was permanently wired into his personal computer.  They had become one.

Like the boy, have we become permanently wired into our electronic devices? 

Has social media replaced human relationships in real time? Jake Reilly, a 24-year-old college student, thought so.  So he set up a 90 day personal experiment he called "Going Amish" to remove himself from all electronic communications--including social media.

Reilly viewed Facebook as a "total waste of time, because everyone is just presenting such a filtered picture of themselves...it's superficiality on top of superficiality. You never get to see the real parts of people."

So here's what he did:  He "called Verizon and suspended service for his cell phone. Deactivated Facebook, deactivated Twitter, deactivated Linked-In, deactivated Spotify, and anything where there was a social component. He put up an out-of-office on both of his email accounts, saying, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I won't receive this until the end of the year."

And the results?  Some angry friends who proved maybe not so close as he'd thought, some damage to his social life when he couldn't give a girl his cell phone number--or call her on hers.

Unplugged, Jake had to get creative to stay in touch, stay connected.  Most methods he used were decidedly low-tech--pebbles thrown at their windows, chalked messages on the sidewalk outside their apartments and offices. Even old-fashioned letter writing mailed via snail mail.

The lessons Jake learned from “Going Amish” were surprising—and varied.  Learning how to play.  Reaping great gobs of free time for living his life...rekindling a lost romance...

Read the full interview with Jake by a Yahoo correspondent here.
See the video Jake, the plug-puller, made here.

Be here now—and join the conversation

Have we become an Un-social Nation—the Distracted Nation?  Do smart phones, texts, e-mails, Facebook and other "social media" harm—or help—our human relationships?  Are we too connected by social media and too little by real time social lives?

Do  smart phones make us smarter—or dumber??

Do you worry about being too plugged in?

What do you think? 

Let's talk about it. Please register and post your comments.


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1 Responses »

  1. We may be gaining and sharing more information, but what is happening to our wisdom? Nice article Patti!

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