I spend a lot of time online and I often wonder if I should take a break from it all.
I read more articles online now and fewer novels. I jump between various apps and sites. I am guilty of checking my phone when I should be talking to the people I’m with. I check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the day (in spite of the first two being blocked at school). I often check social media if I wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I have three email accounts on my phone. I use WhatsApp to connect with some friends, Viber for others. I currently have at least 3 Words with Friends games on the go. I keep track of books I have read and want to read on GoodReads and check what others are reading to find more. I have an iPhone, an iPad and (an aging) MacBook and I am often using two of them at once (right now I have music playing on my phone and I’m typing on my MacBook). I have been known to check Facebook via the experimental browser on my Kindle in a pinch (ie during an 8 hour layover in Nairobi airport). The longest time I have been offline in recent memory was an 8 week trip from Nairobi to Capetown in 2010. (But even then I had things set up so I could send a text to Twitter which both created a tweet and cross posted to Facebook and I recall free wifi at a café in Stonetown, Zanzibar and a hostel in Capetown as well as once paying for some online time while we were at Vic Falls.)
This morning began how most of my mornings do – checking social media on my phone while still lying in bed. I usually start with Facebook, move on to email, check to see if it’s my turn to play on Words with Friends, look at photos and comments on Instagram and Flickr and if I still have time, take a pass at Twitter (I used to check it far more when my TweetDeck app still worked). On weekend mornings when I don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time, I follow more links than on weekdays and I often spend time catching up on NY Times top news and most popular articles as well. Yesterday was one of those days.
I had a lovely exchange via DM on Twitter with my friend Edna who lives in Melbourne, Australia. (Edna and I connected when she commented on a blog post of mine and a year or so later I spent a day with her at her school when I happened to be visiting a friend in Melbourne). In addition to being active on Twitter (@whatedsaid), she has an awesome blog that I love to read and I often pass her posts on to friends and colleagues (especially those not on social media). Edna is very supportive and encourages me to blog more. It came up today and I promised to blog at least once this weekend. She also asked if I had any examples of tech integration in middle/secondary schools. I said I’d check with my brother (@edtgraff) as he teaches high school history and often incorporates tech in his lessons and assignments.
One of the articles that struck me this morning was posted by my friend, Keri-Lee (@klbeasley):
— Keri-Lee Beasley (@klbeasley) May 4, 2013
KL and I worked at the same school in Singapore back in 2006-2007 and she was later one of the people who helped me develop a PLN on Twitter and increase my tech knowledge and skills though she was at another school by then. She also has an awesome blog. I think I had already read another article on the same topic the day before. As all this was going on my phone battery went flat so it turned itself off and I got out of bed long enough to grab my iPad. I plugged the phone in and when it came back on, I chatted with Edna on the phone while surfed other stuff on the iPad. Then my wifi quit working so I got out of bed and opened my (ancient white) MacBook to troubleshoot. It was being painfully slow so I texted my brother to ask if had any tips about Air vs Pro etc as I think it is time to replace it. I didn’t get a reply and his blog appeared to have disappeared so I sent him a PM on Facebook instead to ask about resources for Edna (using 3G on my phone). I then decided I might as well go to the grocery store and checked bus and train times using an app on my phone. I had just missed one so I tethered my iPad to my iPhone and surfed using both. A mutual friend, Adrienne (@amichetti), had replied to KL’s post with a link to the original article so then I read that one as well.
Adrienne and I met via Twitter and she ended up moving to Singapore shortly before I moved away. We met up a couple times during the overlap. We have kept up our friendship and she has become friends with quite a few of my Singapore friends. She blogs nearly everyday and I admire her short, succinct posts because I am not capable of frequent blogging or of keeping my posts short.
By that time I needed to head out for the next bus but first I checked the forecast on my phone to see if I needed to take an umbrella and to make sure I was dressed warmly enough.
While waiting for the train, my brother replied to my question about resources for Edna. I found out he hadn’t gotten my text because his phone was out of commission and he gave me tips about a new computer.
I also checked in on Foursquare which I don’t use much but I am connected to some friends there. I read an article about cooking food and early humans that I then emailed to the Year 3 teachers at my school as it relates to their current unit. Once I arrived at the mall where the grocery store is, I posted a photo on Instagram, exchanged texts with a friend who has been in the hospital this week, stopped at the book store, picked up a book for the friend, one for myself and two for the school library (but only after checking our OPAC to make sure we didn’t already have copies and checking the suggested ages and reviews via my TitleWave app). Then I headed into the grocery store where I checked my shopping list on my phone and checked the bus schedule to go home.
At home, my internet had healed itself so set up my iPad to stream CBC Radio, used my laptop to search for recipes – both new ones and ones I had saved to my Diigo account. I used online banking to change my password because the bank had emailed me to say there had been failed login attempts. I also continued to ponder the articles and how my life would be different without the internet and my smart phone. I sent a couple tweets to KL with a short list:
@klbeasley Thinking about it more and more. Today alone I’ve used a grocery list on my phone, checked the bus schedule, looked up recipes…
— Megan Graff (@megangraff) May 4, 2013
@klbeasley …streamed Canadian radio shows, checked the forecast, and more as well as email and social media. Integrated tech use or what.
— Megan Graff (@megangraff) May 4, 2013
And decided I had my blog post for the weekend. But I didn’t just spend time online, I also made a potato, lentil and spinch soup; a tabouleh inspired quinoa salad; a fruit salad and a pan of brownies. I took all of these to over to my friend who had been released from the hospital and his wife and had a lovely dinner and evening with them. (I even left my phone alone until dessert when we were talking about their former colleague who now works with a friend of mine and couldn’t remember his first name. I checked my friend’s Facebook page and it happened that she had reshared a link he had posted so we had the answer.)
My day would have looked quite different without an Internet connection and it would not have been nearly so rich and connected. I won’t be going offline (on purpose) anytime soon. And now that the author of the article has pointed out that although there was an initial improvement in his quality of life, the internet was not the cause of his problems and without it he liked the person he was even less, I won’t feel like I should.
“My plan was to leave the internet and therefore find the “real” Paul and get in touch with the “real” world, but the real Paul and the real world are already inextricably linked to the internet. Not to say that my life wasn’t different without the internet, just that it wasn’t real life.”