I’m of just the right age to be in the middle of our networked maelstrom. When I graduated high school in 2005, I had a friend tell me to try this crazy new thing from Harvard called “the Facebook” as soon as I had my college e-mail address. I had a cell phone in high school, but not an iPod…and certainly no way to check my email in class. Of course, having clearer memories of living without that degree of connectivity encouraged all of us (I guess you could say millennials) to jump in that much more greedily.
But what one has to do is step back and ask what this technology is getting us. Not how much…it is no real leap to state that we live better now than in the days before connectivity. But by asking what we gain, we are better able to determine what we want to keep and what we want to discard. I’ve never gone on a Facebook fast or anything similar, but I have often cast a critical eye to how I use the pervasive online services that are in my life. It’s one thing to think critically about what you do and don’t need in your online life, it’s another thing entirely to throw your hands up in frustration and throw it all out. Put your phone away at dinner, by all means. But don’t think shutting it in a drawer for a weekend will suddenly enlighten you about a world you were missing. Having your head down and blinders on is a social problem that predates smartphones, loath as we are to admit that we could have a problem that can’t be blamed on something external.