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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Connected Life

I was reading some of the Facebook posting about the upcoming BlogCon and it just occurred to me how very much the Internet has become intertwined into our lives. Well, intertwined to a certain extent.  Maybe too intertwined.  

One level I find the whole Internet intertwining to be something that borders on magical.  Think about it:  for some folks, Internet tools have enabled people to connect on very personal and profound levels.  People have met life-partners on-line.  People have connected with lost friends, classmates and relatives (those three definitely apply to me).  People have used the Internet to amplify messages far and beyond what might have been possible otherwise.  And I write this as someone who, unlike my children and some fellow bloggers, knew the world BEFORE there was an Internet.  Can you imagine?  Some, sadly, can't.

On another level, let's all confess that there is a certain degree of silliness with the whole "Internet lifestyle".  As someone who lived through the 90's, I still chuckle to myself as a certain co-worker walks by, thinking  "there goes the guy who was sure we would all be buying our groceries on-line by now".  Yes, the Internet is home to more than its share of, shall we say, flying cars.  Also, the Internet didn't create the overly-introverted social misfit devoid of any real social skills, but man does it ever given them almost magical powers...becoming become a kind of crackhouse for those who make the choice to limit their engagement in actual, real, personal, human relationships.

Somewhere between these extremes is the reality of the on-line world.

What I find fascinating is the still nascent concept of "un-plugging" for periods of time.  A friend of my oldest daughter, a young man not quite 24 (I think) proclaimed that he was off the grid for vacation.  I read that and it almost floored me.  Such wisdom, at such a young age no less.  I read a great article a few weeks ago (sadly, I didn't keep the URL) where an academic who is steeped in all things Internet made the decision to go completely offline for a period of time just as an exercise in personal liberation.  Insert irony here:  I read his piece on-line.  Anyway, while two events doesn't make a trend, I think what happens is that the Internet does become a pervasive element of our lives, sometimes to such a great extent that it prevents us from seeing just how pervasive it becomes.  See reference to "crackhouse", above.

Now just where do I fit in all of this?  I am a fairly well plugged-in kind of guy.  At any given time I have two cell phones with me (personal and work), I have a Sony tablet, a netbook (currently down for repairs...if I ever get around to fixing it), a work laptop, a desktop computer and a gaming system that can go on-line.  Lots of tools, but do I use them?  The answer to that would be a "yes".  Probably too much.  In point of fact I probably spend too much time engaged on-line, but in my own defense, I am something of an information junkie, and the Internet is like having a library, television studio and newspaper following you around at all times.  See reference to "crackhouse", above.

All is not lost though.  I can report, with some pride, that my significant other is decidedly un-plugged, and for that I am externally grateful.  I did though corrupt her in one way:  she started writing a blog for her sons.  Anyway, her stand is that she spends time on computers at work, so she has no desire to spend any extra non-work time on them.    I really, truly admire her for that, as it is both simple to understand (and for the record she has a complex job, so we are not talking about someone engaged in data-entry) yet profound.  Wow, she likes to deal with reality, not virtual reality.  And the Internet is, for all its glory, still a VIRTUAL reality.  That kind of thinking though has made me reconsider my own on-line time, and I have to confess that I am am slowly but surely spending less, but more targeted, time on-line.

We are going on vacation in a few weeks, and I have been strongly considering just what this means for my "virtual life".  By the way, it sounds pathetic that I even have a "virtual life".  Can I take that back?  Regardless, my thought is that I may bring one cell phone with personal one...and my tablet...and that's it.  The tablet will be there in case I get any creative urges to muse about the sea, or some crap like that.  I can also just play Angry Birds with it.  See reference to "crackhouse", above.

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