Monday, March 5, 2007
Day 2 - Results- Internet
Staying away from the Internet ended up being much easier than I anticipated. I cheated once. It was the week the Ann Arbor News article came out, and someone had mentioned to me that I would really be surprised if I were to Google myself (isn't it odd that "Google" is now often used as a verb?)...apparently the Ann Arbor News article ended up in a variety of other papers/websites. I couldn't resist the temptation. Ironically, a few days later, this story came out - "College Students Think They Are So Special" (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17349066/wid/11915773?GT1=9033). It's about how this generation of college students is the most narcissistic generation in history. The article states that "current technology fuels the increase in narcissism" (the "fuel" being Internet sites such as MySpace and YouTube, as well as blogs). I agree. I've never considered myself to be narcissistic, but the minute I felt that rush of adrenaline when my friend said I now had a "presence" on the Internet, I realized differently. Perhaps I didn't escape the narcissism that IS so fueled by technology...ah well, at least this month has given me an awareness and the motivation to change.
The following best sums up my experience in the absence of the Internet:
The other night (during the project) I went with some friends to a local bookstore to see a Ishmael Beah (author of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier") speak about his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. He was an amazing, articulate, gentle human being and conveyed the emotion of the experience in a way that was deeply touching. I could have read about the situation in Sierra Leone online if I were interested and by doing so, I probably would have received a lot more facts than I did that evening. However, I know I would not have been affected in the same way.
What I've learned throughout this project is that the Internet does a wonderful job of conveying information. It does a very poor job of conveying humanity. Without that essence of humanity, information has very limited use.
How does that translate into my new Internet habits?...I may continue to use the Internet for facts...things like movie times and directions...but when it comes to really learning about something that interests me, I would prefer to dig a little deeper using avenues that convey more of the information - such as printed sources from the library or face-to-face interviews/conversations. Although it would seem that the Internet "broadens" your views, I have concluded through this experience that quite the opposite can be true. It is so easy to only read what you want to read; only expose yourself to the side of an issue that you are comfortable with. When you read a printed source, however, there's the other side of things, glaring right back at you. Or better yet, when talking face-to-face with someone who has had a direct experience, you get the information and the humanity...and the opportunity to change and grow.
Tomorrow: Day 3- Results - Email vs. Snailmail