The Key to this is Awareness

Last week, my best friend and I attempted to have a conversation via text, nothing serious just some gossip about a mutual acquaintance being pregnant, and I was having a complete slow moment; my brain just was not comprehending what she was typing. Finally, she just gave up and called me. We ended up talking for at least an hour and it was enjoyable but I kept trying to check Facebook, Twitter, and email while she was talking to me.

I had to tell myself to stop it, just be in this moment, this phone conversation, and be ok with it.

On this journey with new media, I’m becoming much more aware of my use of computers and the Internet. Author, Howard Rhiengold asks his readers to do the same thing the excerpt my class is reading this week from his book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. We are not as good at dividing our attention as we think. In our attempt to remain connected to everyone, the whole world, we are starting to lose a grip on those closest to us. I noticed the same thing happening to me. My relationships with those I cannot text or Facebook, mainly my older relatives, falter greatly. Rhiengold also talks about his students using devices in class and how it bothers him; he knows he doesn’t have their full attention. It reminded me that I used my computer and phone during class. There are only six of us in there!

Where do I get the gall to just go off somewhere on my phone or computer in the middle of a class?

Finishing up Turkle’s Alone Together made me think about how I could be more healthy about my use of media in my life. She tells the story of a young man named Brenden who does not like to text because it cannot relay all the nuances of face- to-face communication. His need for face-to-face communication bothers his friends and girlfriend. But why do the people that claim to love him not want to talk to him? Why are they so picky about format? I thought that was unfair of them. After noticing these events I’ve decided that more telephone calls are in my future, less text messages. More house calls, less Facebook messages.

Even if I’m not totally unsuccessful, more “physical real” is good for me. If nothing else it will make me more aware of what is happening around me. I won’t misunderstand my friends text. I won’t space out during lunch with a friend. I will hear the entirety of my professor’s lecture.

This week I am determined to live in the physical real. No compromises.

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