Posted by: peterhact | April 6, 2013

The Online world and the common person

I read a blog post recently – don’t ask me to remember the author, I read so many different blog posts every day that to pick one out of the pack is a tad hard, but one of the things that resonated in me was the fact that the author got it slightly wrong. The Online world is not the be all and end all of every person, in fact some people have never seen it. The fundamentals of business have not changed, the medium has in some instances.

If you look at census data in Australia, not every household has the internet. There is also a disproportionate number of people who don’t own their own homes and then, there are the off the grid people, who never appear in the stats – who don’t care about what is trending on social media, mainly because they have no concept of it. Many people wake up in the morning, watch a bit of TV, go to work and come home at the end of the day with absolutely no contact whatsoever with computers. They don’t miss the interaction, in fact, they are far better at social engagement than many people who are “connected”. They are the doers, the people who spend their days keeping everything running, so that the others can spend their days online.

If you said that the basic requirements of life should include food, water and a roof over the heads of your children, or yourself, the internet seems less important.

I have tried to see what it would be like without technology and do you know what? I cannot do it. I need to keep in contact with people I will never meet. Sad. I have far more engagement with people on the other side of the world than I do in my own city. I know a few people here, but I rarely see them. Imagine if there was a way where every day had you in contact with your friends and you met with them every single day, but never, ever spoke to them online. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Welcome to the world of the common person who really doesn’t watch TV, who couldn’t care less about what was trending online and gets up every morning, goes to work, comes home and raises their kids as best they can.

Then there is the NBN. When it arrives, suddenly every single person will have fast, cheap internet and they will be able to join the online world? right? wrong. Ask yourself how many low income people have a computer. How many save so that their kids can have a computer and be on an equal footing with their peers at school? when did having a computer become a part of being a school child?  why are we educating our kids in year two on how to create a powerpoint presentation?

I was learning to read, do sums and learn social skills in year 2, computers filled rooms, so we weren’t able to have those skills back “when dinosaurs roamed the earth”, as my son seems to think my childhood was. When computers became more accessible, there seems to have been an explosion in their use – the child that doesn’t have a color printer for their assignments seems to be punished if they produce great work on handwritten assignments, as their peers can type it up, set the font and make it very pretty. Whatever happened to the substance and the content being greater than the presentation?

One thing that education seems to produce now is socially inept young adults that have greater connections online, who can be bullied through social media, where the bully can hide behind a username and be disconnected to the impact of their comments and threats because it isn’t real life, that seem to have no remorse or conscience when a person they have bullied leaves the school they are at – in fact, I have heard of instances where the bully still continues even though the person is no longer in their circle, as they can and do reach out to a much wider audience and can torment from afar.

is this what we wanted for our kids? I do not want my children to disconnect with nature, to miss the beauty of a sunset if they can’t see a picture of it online, to miss the smell of rain because they are too busy playing games on a handheld device.

Am I common person? why, yes, yes I am. So are you. we are all the common people in this wonderful world. Being common isn’t being average, rich or poor, it isn’t like that anymore. it is being able to balance your life so that bills are paid, charities can assist those less fortunate and you can at least feel that you have contributed to society. If you have read this in the public library, at your desk at work or at home, wonder if you could disconnect from the internet, experience a sunset first hand, teach your children about a garden, allow the world to pass you by – this is the action of a common person, and it is just wonderful. We can experience so much on the internet, but it will never replace our own experiences. Nor should it.

I have lost wonderful moments in my life being tied to this keyboard and seeing a sunset in its dying stages – realising that if I had stopped typing an hour ago, I could have been watching it in person, not browsing the images others had loaded onto the internet for those of us who missed it.

Should we try and connect every single person to the internet, or should we be looking at ways to leave it and be able to appreciate the moments that the internet cannot give, the tactile connection of holding hands, walking in the twilight glow of the setting sun, climbing mountains and seeing sights that will be far more important to our memories than just seeing someone else’s photos online?

I sometimes wish that I could disconnect and ignore the internet. The people who don’t miss it because they don’t have it are richer in many ways – they see far more life than I, they can connect socially with their peers – who has the better deal?

I am not saying that the internet isn’t important – I use it for work and home, after all, I write blogs on it. I just wonder what my kids will be doing as technology advances, will they be using it in new and far more interesting ways? or will the adults of the future ignore technology and reconnect with nature, becoming balanced and able to see beauty for themselves, teaching their kids that there are far better experiences in real life than you could find in the internet…

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