a digital nation

Watch this PBS documentary: a digital nation. It changed the way I viewed technology. They discuss how the internet has hurt (and helped) relationships, how multitasking is destroying our culture, how we create second lives through the internet, and how pretty soon we’ll be sending our kids to internet addiction camps like they already do in Korea. You really should watch it, I found it fascinating.

As a result, in the last few weeks I’ve began multiple conversations about the value of media in our life: twitter, facebook, google buzz… what is the point of it all? Does it add more value or only distract?

The short conclusion is that I think it adds a lot a value IF properly used. Proper Netiquette (defined: short for network etiquette, the code of conduct regarding acceptable online behavior) must be displayed as well as moderation in all things, including email use. Which is why I felt the need to go on a google chat hiatus for the last two weeks– I was feeling addicted ‘being online’, I felt the compulsion to have some sort of web presence, as weird as that may sound. Some of you may have felt the same way with a different web program.

Feel addicted to youtube videos? Do you constantly think of your actions in terms of something to blog about or update your facebook status with? Can you handle being signed out of your email for a few hours? a few minutes?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then I venture to say that it is time to step back. Let’s look at how the web is helping and hurting us, then refine how we use it.

One final thought from Thomas Jefferson: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” I think in some small way, the internet is a powerful form of tyranny over the mind of man. Although I haven’t developed this thought thoroughly. Elder Bednar also had a lot to say on this subject.

I’d appreciate your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “a digital nation

  1. I answered yes to “think of your actions in terms as something to blog.” But I agree with the documentary. If something doesn’t change, our children’s whole lives will be the internet. But the ‘IF’ is big. The internet does affect our lives for the better. What I think, it all comes down to the parents teaching, self control and discipline. We could also look at it as doing a fast. Once in awhile we should step back and reevaluate the situation.

  2. My thoughts-

    First, I’m happy that you embed links in blogs and emails. I have begun to copy that practice from you over the past couple weeks. Embedded links look much nicer.

    Second, I was “off the grid” for our four days in California, and it was great. I loved it, and didn’t feel the pull of internetness, which I was grateful for. I do derive immense utility from may web-based applications, though (email, dropbox, skype, google docs/wave/reader, wikipedia, google searches, etc.).

    Third, your conclusion about “it adds a lot a value IF properly used” seems familiar and reasonable, as that same principle applies to many powers in life (procreation, parenting, leadership/persuasion/influencing others, work, etc.).

    Fourth, “one of [Satan’s] most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state… Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, ear buds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication. Beware of digital displays and data in many forms of computer-mediated interaction that can displace the full range of physical capacity and experience.” The brain has much difficulty distinguishing between reality and various substitutes (ask me about my dream this morning or my Bioethics professor’s self-confessed hallucinations or some theories/research supporting this conclusion or picture the protagonist of Avatar). In my own life I have made some small sacrifices of full-breadth interactions in exchange for web-based ones (e.g. feeling a relational connection with a blog author rather than interacting in person with him/her or spending time online instead of going for a run). A primary point of mortality isn’t just to return to God (else why’d we leave in the first place?) but to fully experience and control these telestial bodies – and often when online one is barely aware of his/her tabernacle. As virtual realities increasingly approximate reality, we must increasingly displace virtual time with “full range of physical capacity and experience.”

    References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_reality

  3. I have been thinking about this so much. I feel so relieved when I go on vacation because I don’t have to be online so often – funny that we feel enslaved to a tool that is supposed to improve our lives. Great post–

  4. i think computers are evil. but linds, i have a serious need for your help. i just started a word press blog and can’t figure out how to change my fonts and i did the typekit thing but it just confuses me more than anything. help?

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