I just finished reading an article about “Electronic Overload.” The article encouraged me to determine whether or not it was time for me to get disconnected by asking myself a series of questions. (I kinda hoped the article would suggest feeling compelled to read it mean I needed to disconnect.)
At the same time, the article suggested that a need to be constantly connected to Facebook, Twitter, etc. has become the “new norm” whereby we feel compelled to keep up with our 813 Facebook Friends’ Daily travails, food choices, game scores, and assorted other drama. So I’m not sure if I was being encouraged to disconnect or understand that this is the way life now happens.
Since I had just spent my daily fifteen minutes of Facebook time prior to reading the article, I could relate. When I closed Facebook I found myself actually chuckling over some of the things I’d learned. I suppose I could list some here, but I’m not going to risk embarrassing people. Suffice it to say that I’m not sure I gained much by knowing where people partied last night, what quotes they liked and shared, what music they were listening to…
Okay, the latest picture of a nephew was really cute… and having occasional contact with relatives and friends quite literally around the world is sorta neat. Many of these connections are ones I wouldn’t otherwise have. But like all good things, there’s a flip side to this. Our species seems to have difficulty with moderation.
I recently had a conversation (in real-time on the phone, not online) with a friend (A) who reported some difficulties with a mutual acquaintance (B) who “usually gets things done,” but has been unresponsive of late and is creating some difficulty as a result. A quick check of Facebook yields lots of reports of B’s game achievements and at least one request for me to “connect” and join in. Do you suppose there is a correlation? Is B somebody who should perhaps occasionally disconnect?
On a slightly different track, another friend sent me a link via email to a site with a cartoon she was quite sure I’d enjoy. In my reply to her, I noted that she created a bit of “lost time” for me this morning as I couldn’t resist poking through some of the others. It was in the course of doing that I encountered one that instructed: “Discuss this with yourself.” Now that’s a concept that deserves some exploration. For students who attend classes I teach, you can be assured you’ll occasionally hear that.
So here’s the deal. I’m not going to ask you to discuss whether or not you need a little disconnect from electronic media. Many of you already know you do. I am going to ask you to discuss your priorities with yourself. That might include a hard look at your Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc. activity… if you can be objective about what you see, it will show you where your priorities are in practice. If you can’t be objective (an admittedly difficult assignment–we’re better at rationalizing our behavior than analyzing it), at least discuss with yourself what you think your priorities are. Then discuss with yourself if your connections and habits match your priorities.