This week we focused on digital mindfulness within this module, and at first I thought it was about thinking before speaking… you know, to align with the previous modules of digital citizenship and digital activism. However, it turned out to be more of how we think and feel about technology and while we use technology.
One of the prompts suggested in the assignment sheet was whether or not I feel that I use technology mindfully. For the most part, I do feel that I use technology mindfully. I always try to stick to sites that I know are safe and secure, and I always make sure that my antivirus software is up-to-date and functioning correctly. I always password protect my accounts and make sure that they all have enough complexity to avoid being hacked or spoofed. On the other hand, I oftentimes stay up much later than I should while using technology which is rather unhealthy. As a result, I end up losing sleep because it becomes difficult to fall asleep even after I have stopped using the technology.
The second prompt is to discuss when we feel that we need to be more attentive. Personally, I have a really bad habit of becoming distracted by technology when I should be focusing on homework. The most common occurrence is that I am trying to look something up but become distracted by news and other current events. The next thing I know is that I am trying to learn exactly why giraffes have those nubbins on the tops of their heads. Other than that, I would like to think that I am pretty attentive. I think this comes from a childhood and adolescence spent without the luxury of internet service, so I have never really felt it to be an overwhelming presence in my life.
Stemming from that train of thought, there are times when technology impacts the relative attentiveness of the people that use it. For instance, I spent a semester sitting next to a classmate that would trawl the internet rather than pay attention in class and did poorly on tests and assignments as a result of it. I have also seen parents and caregivers be inattentive around young children which can be incredibly dangerous and result in injury or even loss of life. To this end, I personally know a parent who almost let their baby choke because they were too busy watching television to pay attention to their young child. As it stands, we need to stop multitasking when it becomes a detriment to the wellbeing of ourselves and others. We lose the ability to be fully aware of the important things when we allow ourselves to be too sucked in by technology in favor of reality.
Conclusively, the articles, Simplify the Internet and What Happens When Teens Try to Disconnect from the Internet for Three Days, and the TED talk (embedded below) this week taught me that we need moderation. I do not necessarily agree with the argument that we are entrenched by our technology to the point of really missing anything. The only time we miss anything is when we do not care enough to catch it. Technology has allowed us to immortalize moments that would have otherwise been restricted to faulty memory. It has allowed us to save more lives through improved medicine and medical technology. Social media has allowed us to connect with people and places that would have never before been possible without technology. Frankly, to my mind it has done far more harm than good and is so rooted through our society and our lives that rather than trying to cut it out completely as some sort of “challenge”, the best thing is to learn and practice moderation and self-control. I understand that these articles and the Ted Talk were really only referring to the Internet, but far too many people in my life have tried to take the argument against Internet and extend it to an argument against all technology. I get to hear things like “I should have been born in a different time” and the “What happened to being self-sufficient” arguments far too much, but I would not be alive if it was not for technology. Additionally, such arguments are all fun and games until reality kicks in with the diseases and the hardships and the drawbacks that technology has circumvented.