Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Just Something I Wanted to Share

I wanted to share this article with the class, because it's incredibly relevant to what we've been talking about this semester.

In the article Paul Miller discusses his experience after "taking a year off" from the internet. For a whole year, he went completely without internet of any kind, sticking to snail mail, regular phones, etc. Surprisingly, what he found was that it didn't change him the way he thought it would.

He thought that going without the internet would benefit him, giving him time and freedom that he never had before. While this was the case at first, it didn't last. Soon, he was as lazy without the internet as he was with it.

This reinforced what I've felt like was a central issue in this course: do we use the media, or does the media use us? In many ways, I agree with a lot of the discussion we've had on the idea that, as Marshall McLuhan said, "All media work us over completely." In many ways I think we are controlled by the media that we use.

However, I think this article presents an interesting case for the idea that media is also a tool, and that ultimately it's up to us how it gets used--positively or negatively.

The article doesn't take long to read, so I suggest others check it out. I'm curious to know what everyone thinks of it.


  1. At first I thought back to one of the first conversation the class had. It was over the two articles one arguing for internet and the other saying it made of dumber. Our small group had agreed it depended on how we use our resources. If we use Facebook to stalk and fill our time procrastinating, then it's not a good use of our time. If we use it network and keep in touch with friends and family miles even countries away, it's probably than those overage fees from long distance calling. After reading the article something that stuck out to me was how he expected it to make his more productive. In reality, it made him more lazy. I think this shows not necessarily how technology uses us or how vice versa, but how our generation is so use to it that it is apart of our culture. Like books were a part of everyday life in the 1800s or so, the internet is our "niche".

  2. This article was really interesting, but I would be curious to see multiple peoples' reactions to not using the internet for a year. I think that he maybe was one of those people who was not dependent on the internet for social interactions, work, etc. Therefore he was not dramatically affected by not using it. It does however reiterate the fact that the internet has as much power over as we let it.

  3. This is a very interesting idea! And it's even more interesting that this guy didn't feel "improved" from his time away from the internet. It does go to show that this world CAN live without this stuff, but overall, it's just made life better. Like, this guy can stay connected with his brother while he's overseas. I've always wanted to take a vacation out in the middle of nowhere where internet doesnt exist. I miss the feeling of just being by myself sometimes. However, as the author of this article points out, it's only nice for so long. Then things just get lonely and we break ourselves off from people.

  4. I think that this is a great example of how the internet is not necessarily the big bad boogey man that it is often made out to be. It really is just a tool, and while it has a huge impact on the way we live our lives, it isn't all bad. I think a key point that he makes is that he can't blame the internet for his problems. They're problems that he has created for himself, not the internet.

    1. I totally agree, that was the coolest thing about the article to me. I think a lot of times when this topic is discussed, people tend to leave themselves out of the conversation. What was cool here, was that he was very much explaining how he created these problems for himself.

  5. What I found most interesting was the drastic increase in good use of time and the the drastic drop back down into the depths. When he said that parting ways with the internet improved his attention span and reading skills, especially that it allowed him, at times, to read hundreds of pages of The Odyssey in one sitting, I was amazed. This kind of effect is the one that I've always hoped I would experience if I were to venture away from technology, and the one I've expected to result more than anything else. I noticed that, when he explained his decline back into laziness, it was only that: laziness. He did not continue to read and experience a decrease in attention span, he simply lost to drive to keep reading.

    This is why I'm not sure this article is a good argument for the against side of the "technology destroys our minds" debate. It seems to me that the main issue here is human nature, what we want to do rather than what we can do. It seems that there is still a good argument for the idea that the internet chips away at our attention spans, rewires our brains, "turns us into vegetable clickers." Perhaps the only reason it does so is because we let it, maybe we want it to.

    Also, I would like to draw attention to the argument that technology (internet included) only affects us negatively because we rely on it. Perhaps the fact that the books in college libraries gather dust because students would rather just search the web is an issue. Personally, I like to use Bracken for research, and can often be found scouring CardCat when I have an assignment, but I've had people in groups with me for such projects widen their eyes when I tell them I found 5 print sources and say "well, SOMEONE'S an over achiever!" This article did not directly address this viewpoint, but since it dealt a lot with how we use the internet to network and interact with each other, I would be interested to see the stance it would take on relying on the internet to keep in touch. Of course, like it says, it allows us to find people and talk to people we wouldn't be able to otherwise, but what about the people we could see any time? Does the internet cause us to not hang out "irl," as gamers would say, because we can talk to our friends on the internet? I think it would make an interesting addition to the article.

  6. This surprised me...I would have figured that the section he titled "I dreamed a dream" would have been the way he remained. Be a little sharper, read more, listen more attentively. I never figured that there would be such a fall back into the same tendencies he had while using the internet.

    I do think though that as much as we rely on the internet, our generation is a little better than others about balancing it. Sure, we can be constantly checking our social media, but we grew up without always having a smartphone and texting incessantly. I think while our younger siblings don't necessarily do so well, we can still engage in face to face conversations and interact with people a little better than those who simply rely on the internet.

    I do think that this article was interesting, but I don't think it's possible for everyone to just up and leave the online world for a year. Like Tierney said earlier maybe he wasn't completely one to rely on the internet. What about the people who use the internet for work, need their smartphones to stay connected as they travel, etc. It would be very interesting to see more people try this from different careers, even from different age groups, and other walks of life.

    I personally think this is such a cool idea to test. I just don't think I could go without the internet for a year. I definitely couldn't haved passed most of my classes this semester without it.

  7. This article was really interesting and didn't quite turn out the way I expected. I thought it was interesting that this man only experienced a few short lived months of increased activities without the internet. It was incredible to think about how drastically his life changed in those few short months. Those couple of months where he had really positive effects from no internet almost made me want to give up using the internet.

    However, when the article took a twist and he stated that he eventually turned back into the lazy man he was before giving up the internet I realized that the internet wasn't the cause of him being lazy or having a short attention span.

    This article really shows that the internet is not the root problem of people becoming less socialized and more scatterbrained these days. It also shows the internet does not control us as much as we think it does. People choose to spend their time either with the internet or without it. This article also really points out how dependent our generation is on the internet and how much we rely on it.

  8. I'm with Tierney, I would be interested in seeing a study of this because I doubt people would have the same experience he did. I think you adapt to whatever situation you are in. I was basically without a phone for 5 months and it was weird at first, but I liked not having the pressure. I use the internet way more than my phone though so I don't know.

    We are bombarded with information about how the internet is changing us and making us into technology zombies, but perhaps we are the ones that are changing the internet based on what we want and how we use technology. Maybe the problem isn't with internet, but with ourselves.