I recently saw this PBS Frontline Special called Digital Nation and was intrigued on the study of the internet on everyday life. It is true that most of us web 2.0ers are more engrossed with our smartphones and laptops and probably communicate less on a more personal basis. I also wasn’t completely surprised by the Stanford study on multi-tasking and how the results were that when people multi-task they are in fact less effective than when they take things head-on and one at a time. This makes sense to me because I have noticed that there were times when I tried to listen to a podcast and read an email or a website and realized that I wasn’t able to complete that feat.
Having my life becoming more intermingled with the internet is one of the reasons that I’ve decided to cancel my Facebook account. For some reason it has become a bit more oppressive toward me than a delight. I constantly felt like I had to make time to check on my news feeds, emails, etc. This of course took time away from more leisure or more important pursuits of mine. Not to mention that I’ve become more easily distracted and have an increased short-attention span than before. Of course, I still have my Twitter account up and running so I’m not completely disconnected from the digital world.
Frontline: Digital Nation is a great show on how the internet and other digital distractions have been changing our perspective on life and how it’s changing our brain patterns and how we think. I highly recommend it to everyone to watch and gauge how involved they’ve also become with this digital lifestyle.
This past weekend, I was helping out my sister-in-law with a homework assignment for one of her classes. The assignment in question was reading an essay by a German sociologist and philosopher, Georg Simmel (1858-1918), called “The Metropolis and Mental Lfe” and writing a paper about it. It was a very good read and it did excite me in its refreshing outlook on city life. I especially enjoyed Simmel’s breakdown of a city person and could definitely relate to the description. I am always in constant need of stimuli throughout my life. Which is why I love social networking to a point (only Twitter, blogging and podcasting for me for now) and I am always plugged into my iPod listening to a variety of podcasts or reading some websites or email on my iPhone. Right this minute, as I’m writing this, I’m also recopying my CDs back into Apple Lossless now that I found out how to convert them into mp3 whenever I choose. So yes, I do love stimuli.
It’s also true that in an environment of constant stimuli, one has to develop some kind of mental shield to help your senses not get overwhelmed into an uncontrollable mental response. Simmel chooses to call this mental shield a blasé attitude to your surroundings which is different from just numbness and dullness. This too I can relate to because how can you possibly react incredulously to every crazy thing you see or hear all around you. If you live in a city of 10 million people, you’re always going to hear and see something that would otherwise be outlandish in rural America. However, in New York City, this has pretty much become mere happenstance. And this is also why I am glad to be back in my hometown. I grew up in this environment for the first 18 years of my life. The suburbs of Westchester County were nice and Bridgeport, CT had its charm but they both don’t have anything on my beloved Big Apple. A big city is so full of life and activity and I can’t imagine a better environment to thrive in. Anyway, that was my take on that essay for the most part. What are your thoughts?
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