I was thinking today, as I usually do. But today, as I walked with my dog up and over and around and back again along the snowy path behind the house, perhaps I .am. spending too much time wandering around in a cyberworld.
I have been on computers since my first memories reach, and for some of you in my age bracket, you will understand that this is a significant feat. Yes, kids today are born with an iPhone attached to their fingers, but for me, I was born in a time where a single computer filled up a room at a university, and did NOT exist inside of many houses. We now carry more powerful computers around in our pockets as we go about our business during the day.
There is no question I was stuck immediately to computers. I remember in about grade 4 our elementary school got three shiny new Apple computers. These weren’t the Oregon Trail Macintosh computers shown above, these were the first computers to have a word processor that we now know and use every day. I joined the library club, sorted books in my spare time, and sat on that computer typing letters for hours!
Then the world of internet started, dial-up modems with hyper-terminal connections. We got our first action when my mother connected us to the college’s library. I thought it was so cool that we could browse the archives of the library from home. You have to remember this is at a time when most people didn’t have a splitter for their phone line, so when I say that I downloaded Linux, trying to dual boot our IBM computer, this download would probably take about 4 different sittings with the phone line tied up for at least 4 hrs each. I think that’s the first time I really messed up our computer, this dual boot business. Right around this time I downloaded one of the first photo editing software I knew of, a free program called ACDSee. Then I was staying up all night searching Netscape Navigator for websites that had muscle car images to save and put onto floppy discs. I think I could get about 15-20 car images onto a disc before it was full? I had a secret disc for the extra special photos I knew my mother wouldn’t approve of.. Yeh, these were also the days where it wasn’t easy and free to get nudity online as it is now.
My cousins were the first ones to get a computer with a CD burner in it. When I visited them, I downloaded Napster for them and we would sit and wait for the songs we had brainstormed to download via that super fast T1 connection.
So you see, I grew up in this stuff. I grew as it grew. Now, it is at the same stage I am in my life. We’re both at a point where we’re asking ourselves why are we doing this, not just can we do this.
Electronics available at your local Future Shop can do anything. It’s not can I do this anymore, it’s why am I doing this. I’m talking about things like Twitter, where I spend my time typing out thoughts that come to my head, and having nobody acknowledge I said anything, or commenting on somebody else immediate thoughts [I kid, I love twitter, don’t hate]. It’s things like Instagram where we take photographs of our dog resting as it does, and saying something about how it’s the cutest dog in the world. The same goes for Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, etc.
I’m of mixed emotions here. I believe that we are taking the time to acknowledge what is happening around us; we see things we enjoy, and we want to share them with our friends. So, we tweet it, or photograph it and send it off into the interwebs. But, does this disconnect us, or connect us? How does this make the dog feel that we just observed, photographed, shared with friends elsewhere, and then walked away distracted by the next thing? Perhaps some of us scratch the dog, play with it a bit, then carry on. But perhaps some of us don’t scratch the dog, and go on ignoring it for a device we hold in our hands that has a refresh rate of 50Hz.
I was observing my own habits, obviously. One of my methods of answering my questions is to write it down. I also like to talk about it with other people to see what they have to say. You see, I sit on my computer a lot. I have been for a while. Most of the days I sit on here creating content for websites, editing photos, designing, coding, talking on any number of my SM sites, writing/answering emails, browsing creative work and articles I’ve been forwarded, watching movies…. the list does go on. I’m not just doing nothing…
Maybe I’m doing too much? Am I doing enough?
I don’t think that I do too much. I believe I am aware of my usage, and monitor it very closely to make sure that I have the necessary balance for myself to be sane. The computer is my tool belt. I head for Google like a carpenter reaches for his measuring tape. There are times when I need to focus on a project, where I limit my SM usage and close all the distracting windows. But I never get the feeling like I’ve done too much, gone too far. I’ve recently talked about my thoughts on What Has Social Media Become. I will quote from that article:
What has social media become? What is the point of it? Take a moment to define this for ourselves and ask ourselves if this is truly what we are doing immersed in SM. Or, are we abusing it and falling into lazy tactics like the much feared [by this writer] couch potato, droning into the background by a sense of semi-aware but no direction known.
I will not leave the computer and free my mind and soul in the non-technological world. I believe in empowering ourselves with all the tools that we have available to us. For me, the computer is a VERY BIG tool to use.
I’m interested in investing. I read a book by Jesse Livermore called Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, and one of the biggest tips he learned early in his career in the Bucket houses was that he can watch, observe, and predict as much as he wants, but he will never truly learn anything until he does it. The day he decided this, was the first day he placed an order. He is considered one of the best stock operators of the time.
I think this is the revolution we will have as we all move forward in this era. We are all doing so many things that it’s inevitable that sooner or later the things that we’re doing that have no substance in our life will fall lame and die.
I guess the question is just how long will we hold onto that rope as we’re dragged behind the boat?
I’m cool letting go, I believe change is good. Do you?