Bursting Out of My Tech Bubble

9 Mar

I love reading articles online, not so much books, but articles I love. When an editor is careful to hyperlink the article’s references (and there are always references), you can be thrown into hours of reading without realizing it. It’s part of what makes the Web such a dramatically different experience than print.

Unlike jotting down a name or event or article to look up later, you can jump back and forth from your material, informing yourself as you go. Sometimes I wonder though — is this improving or deteriorating the way we learn and consume information? At times it feels like I have a near impulse to skip to another topic or page half way through the current thing I’m reading. I’ve read stats and studies that go both ways, but I don’t really know what I believe yet.

I love technology and what it’s done for my life, but I sometimes loathe the added pressure that comes with Twitter, and blogs, and RSS feeds, and Facebook, and online magazines, and instant messaging, and so on and so on. Every new social media venue and online endeavour gives me another thing to worry about. Have I blogged enough lately? How many Twitter followers am I at? I still need to upload that Facebook album. How many LinkedIn connections do I have? What was that Times link I was going to read at lunch? I’ve been neglecting my RSS feed. How will this title affect the Google analytics stats?

This new culture of digital media is breeding a new kind of anxiety in us all (especially those in the publishing industry who feel that they have to have to be up on everything). And like most things, it’s developing its own lexicon and tribe of followers. Lately I’ve heard a lot of people saying that they need to “unplug” for a day or two — like an escape from some greater machine sucking our life force. Too dramatic? Yes, probably. At work yesterday my coworkers and I were discussing the days of handing in school papers that were hand written. It’s hard to imagine now what life was like before we were all so plugged in.

Now although this video is meant to make fun of hipsters and not allude to the digital-induced paranoia we sometimes feel, I think you should check it out (or if you’re like me, you’ve already watched it a million times). With all of the boundless streams of information coming at us every day, it can sometimes feel like a race. I’m considering a two-day digital hiatus this weekend (or next). It sounds pathetic that I have to plan this, but honestly, two days without any Internet or laptops or smartphones … it’s kinda tough!

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