Friday, February 8, 2008

My So Called "Online" Life


So sometimes I wonder what people think about their lives and technology. I have staved off the urge to get an Ipod almost permanently now but there are those folks who have Ipods, Iphones, those who are continuously checking their email and are connected over the internet with their cell phones because they can't even think about living off the net. There are those that spend all day chatting with people they know and even those that chat all day with those they don't know. What about those people? Would you say they are living a good life? Far be it for me to judge because of course it depends on how much they are getting out of their lives, how they feel, and what kind of personal contribution they want to make to society in their lives.

Of course it's great to be able to use technology today, it makes life so much more convenient to live and really does give everyone more time to do other things which is very nice. There's so much more opportunity today to learn new things and to be more productive, it's really great. Can you get to a point where it might seem like abuse of technology though rather than using it for good. Perhaps a better question would be can you get to a point where technology seems like it is abusing you? There are some people who are so wrapped up in their online life whether it be chatting, posing as someone else, or even in online gaming, that they stay online and seem to be tethered to their computers 24/7. For these people, being “off the net” or away from their computers is almost a painful experience.

I'm a firm believer that you have to 'live” some life “off the net” though. I know that throughout the years I have needed to make a conscious effort to spend some time away from technology. It feels good, gives me time to reconnect with the world and things like temperature, weather, nature, my neighborhood, what day it is, and friends. All things that should be more important than being online. Using technology is unavoidable today of course because if you do stick to the good ol' pad and paper as I've wanted to do time and again, you find yourself back on the computer and online later realizing what a cumbersome idea and how outdated pad and paper can be.

Let me give an example from my own life. I love writing on memo pads with a smooth writing pen on paper (since we're on the topic). It's just a personal liking I have. I found it so nice for a long time to write up my task lists for home, work, and what have you on pads of paper. I still say it's one of the best inventions ever made. After a while though I started wishing I could move things around a bit, organize things better, without having to go to and rewriting everything into the proper order I wanted or onto the pad that represented the proper category it should have been in. I started getting lazy and drawing arrows on my task lists and then circling the important tasks I thought were more important than the rest. One day soon after I was surfing the net and came across “mind organizers” or “mind mapping” software. Just the title itself intrigued me. Well, to make a long story short, I found a recommended software called Freemind online that was actually free and a great task organizer. I inadvertently through my own memo pad innovation was using mind mapping. Now I am back on the computer everyday happy for the wonderful free software that has given my own wish and evolution form. (where can I get it?

It's amazing, I always say, “Anything that is worth finding is out there on the net.” This is just another proof that if you have a good idea, it's rare now that someone hasn't thought of it as well and with the new love of open source most people have, it's more likely to be free.

Back to the topic at hand though, what's it like to live online and how dangerous is it? Do we abuse the internet or does the internet abuse us? For some it's the latter. Especially in this world of WOW and online shoot'em ups. For me though, I have fought the internet addiction, made my way off it, and found my way back. I guess everyone who spends any great amount of time online will go through the same battle. You come back more responsible to yourself and your time, you come back more appreciative of what the internet and your computer have to offer, and hopefully like I have grown to feel, appreciate it for much much more than gaming.

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