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" ( 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


Cherice said...

I use the internet for various things. Actually next month I plan to go see an author at a bookstore because her website gave her book tour dates. The internet allowed me to research the cancer that my dad had and access information I would have not been able to get to otherwise. I often will print knit patterns from the internet, but I have no interest in chat rooms (I do maintain a blog), I prefer my chatting to be in person.

I have often tried to explain to my children what life was like before the internet, which has brought us much information, but at what cost?

karen said...

I concur with your conclusions that the internet is a decent source for indisputable facts (like movie times) or basic research from sites that are reliable.

And, I, too, prefer my chats in person.

However, I have seen some powerful connections made via the internet that wouldn't have happened before. I am aware of a retired journalist who has used the internet to reconnect scores (now there's a pre-1950s word) of other retired folks and they are telling each other wonderful stories about their past antics every night. And, sometimes the Internet bridges emotional distance, too. Very few of my friends were able to walk through the anniversary of my father's death with me, but I kept a journal of that time on my blog that allowed others to see into my world from a safe distance and engage the blog (or sometimes me in person) when they felt comfortable or courageous after reading my posts. And I didn't feel so alone.

BTW, my husband who was born and raised in Ann Arbor and lived on the Old West Side, wants to know if you stayed away from Border's during February since its origins are post-1950.

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