How internet is affecting our life

Jenny reflected on how she viewed the impact of internet on seniors here the internet and the older generation.  Do old people need to be connected more actively via internet? What are the values of using internet in their connections? I don’t know, but old people could become rather lonely if they are isolated from the family, or the community.  So, some connections using facebook, twitter,  or other mobile technology may be helpful for some old people, in order for them to be part of the “virtual community”.  Some old people might also be interested in reading and watching news and reading newspapers over the internet, as they could choose when and how they would do that at their own pace.  The problem is: do they have the computer and technology skills in mastering such information and internet search?  My limited experience with “teaching” elderly is: No.  Internet is not that “easy” to learn, especially when old people are not educated in technology or having the computer literacies.  May be they could learn using mobiles, but again the characters and image in mobiles may be too small for them to read.  Some old people would still prefer to meet and socialize with others face-to-face,  as evidenced in the small gatherings in malls, or eating out in the restaurants.

My parents didn’t use any computers, not even the internet.   They didn’t even had the chance of receiving formal education.  So where and how did they get the information when they were alive? And what were their source of knowledge and wisdom?

They got the wisdom from their parents, friends, and the informal “teaching” and learning at work or with their children, through doing,  observation, experience and reflection of work and life.  As they grew older, they became wiser, as they understood that life is a learning experience, and that they have transformed their knowledge into wisdom that inspired them to practice “peace of mind and acts of love” in their latter part of life.

Although we have become more educated, as compared to our ancestors,  are we getting smarter, wiser?

With the introduction of new and emerging technology, mobile technology, and internet in particular, we have come to a point when most of our learning and values are being “challenged” by many others, including the formal authorities, experts, institutions, and knowledgeable others based on critical thinking, and creative collective inquiries, and communities discourse.

Here is an adapted and expanded version of a reflective writing (with my views and beliefs included).   I got it from my  beloved sister.  I don’t know the source, but would like to acknowledge and attribute to the source.

Photo: from Flickr

Today we have higher buildings and wider highways, but shorter attention span and temperament, and narrower points of view.

We spend more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families.

We have more information and “knowledge”, but less “objective” judgement and tolerance.

We have more medicines, but less health.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk much,  but we listen less.

We love only a little, but we hate a lot.

We reached the Moon and came back, but we found it too troublesome to cross our own street and meet our neighbours.

We have conquered the outer space, but not our inner space.

We have higher income, but less moral values.

We have increased public education on family values, but the divorce rate has also increased.

There are finer houses, but more broken homes.

We created more schools, but there are more failure drop-outs.

We showed our power and arrogance, but failed to acknowledge our own arrogance and ignorance.

We strived for liberty and freedom, but tried to convince others that they have to follow our orders.

We live our life by possessing and accumulating more materials and wealth, but we seem to have great difficulties in caring and loving our parents, partners, children and friends, or our colleagues and customers.

How about the following propositions?

Do you keep anything for a special occasion, because every day that you live is a special occasion.

Take out from your vocabulary phrases like “I will love him or her if he changes”.  Instead, adopt a phrase like “I will change myself so I could love him or her now”

Tell your family and friends how much you love them.

Do not delay anything that could add laughter, joy and happiness to your life, and to your other family members’ life.

Every day, hour, minute and second is special… to you and to others who you love.

And you don’t know if it will be your last moment to share….

Those are the days belong to the past, in nostalgia. Here is the moment to share and celebrate life.

Search for truth, information and knowledge.  Read more, think and reflect on what you have learnt. Sit on your front porch (including your blog, your Facebook, your Twitter, or your favorite social media site), and admire the views of nature and spaces (including the networks, the different social media)

Spend more time with your family, eat your favorite (healthy) food, visit the place you love.  Play the music that you enjoy, and sing the songs that echoes with your mind.

Life is a chain of moments of joys, it isn’t only for survival.

Use your crystal goblets. Do not save your best perfume (your wisdom or knowledge), and use it every time you feel you want it.

If you like,  share your wisdom and knowledge – that is your riches here on earth.

Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal.  Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal.  For your heart will always be where your riches are. (Luke 12.33-34)

Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” discussed the ways in which our online existence is rewiring our minds, replacing deep thought with information overload, and overruling attentiveness with a steady stream of interruptions and distractions. This saturation of technology, he says, is affecting us at the cellular level and turning us into what one researcher terms “suckers for irrelevancy.” Here is the video.

Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?

Are we becoming more geeky and less intellectual?  I don’t think there is an “absolute” answer to this question, as the “truth” lies with both sides of the coin: That we are living with an ecology where distributed knowledge and information is ubiquitous, and that we are trying to define epistemology based on a world view.

In this Is wikipedia anti-intellectual? by Daniel, he puts forward his views on intellectualism. “We should help each other to become critical thinkers” Totally agreed. Our formal education is still aligned more with the adoption of authority based or canonical knowledge, which may be well designed for “transmission” of factual and procedural knowledge and scientific information.  However, the complexity of information landscape (internet, communities, networks, webs, formal institutions) and the abundance of information and “experts” with expert knowledge all over the “spaces” have challenged us to re-think about what it means to be an intellectual, and what makes us a better informed and knowledgeable citizen (or scholar, educator or learner) within a global learning environment.

15 thoughts on “How internet is affecting our life

  1. Here is my comments on Jenny’s post: Hi Jenny,
    I think older people are “winding” down in their journey of their lives, and so would be choosy in their connections. I think their wisdom are more aligned with loving their close family members (the precious moments), by having and hoping to have more social connections, to keep their hearts warm for the rest of their lives. I also think I am going along a similar pathway, though I am still not yet qualified as yet. Love your poem, as that is how I would like to ponder in my life, as a legacy.

  2. Hi John,
    What an interesting post. I was chatting with a friend’s mother this week who lives in a small cul-de-sac in a village. Some of the land and houses have changed slightly over the years but everyone knew each other a little and socialised together. Now most of her neighbours have died or moved elsewhere as their families have grown. The new neighbours don’t appear to show the same sense of sharing space with each other so there is less communication between them.

    She uses the internet and web to keep in touch with her family, share links and fun/ interesting articles and videos. She has a mobile phone which she carries with her all the time but generally uses for calling taxis and meeting relatives or friends at different locations. She says that she is happy with the balance of on and offline but would like more activities and relationships in her physical area / neighbourhood. She gave an example of previously having been a keen gardener but it is not so easy now to grow because cost of everything, ability to carry things home on buses so not so easy to share. She said that the neighbours often used to share fruit and vegetables that they had grown.

    Some of the Transition Towns activities are encouraging this, for example in a village near my home they have started garden sharing where people who are not using their gardens provide space for gardeners who don’t have an allotment or garden to grow flowers and vegetables. They have found that in each case, there has been positive relationships between gardeners and garden owners and deeper social relationships formed as they have conversations over a cup of coffee and sharing knowledge and ideas.

    I love the idea of looking out from an online front porch. Its strange (not necessarily good or bad) now because it feels like, with online – sometimes there are just people wandering into your home and they can take a look around, borrow stuff, share with others, have conversations with each other. Its easier to do in a way but I guess one doesn’t go without the other – if you are more relaxed with your physical neighbours, maybe it becomes more relaxing to do this online?

    I do wonder if this does dilute the sense of meeting a need that sharing brings though – if I think back to early days of using the web where it was so exciting to share links, ideas online – suddenly to lots of people if you wanted. It still can be now too. However if we open up more and more of our online homes so that people we don’t know can share our stuff anyway – how does that affect us as humans?

  3. Hi Nicola, Thanks for your visit to my porch🙂 Feel free to wander around & share. I love your idea about gardening (with learning & socializing based on gardening metaphor). If we open up more and more of our online homes so people we don’t know can share our stuff, how does that affect us as humans? I think that is an alternative form of learning & socializing that we have so little experience in the past. There could be huge implication on how we interact with each other both offline and online. One of the most significant aspects would be our habits of life, which relate to enculturation and acculturation, impacted by technology and our deeper understanding of other cultures.
    John

  4. Thanks John, likewise re wandering and sharing🙂 Your points about habits and cultural preferences too, I suppose we all adapt. The video is interesting too about links of the web and new models of learning. I wonder where next with linking too,

  5. Hi John,
    Enjoy this thread… a genuine conversation… Nice to see that.
    I have just about wrapped up a long day. Look forward to a long weekend…
    Way too much work right now, course work… responding to people and their ideas on paper, revising assessments as part of re-accreditation work, consulting work…. getting ready to travel… all summer…. interesting work…. lots of face-to-face connections… and new opportunities for sharing, collaborating, and learning.
    But for now, a break from that… Interesting content and ideas…. good questions…. and this is probably the twentieth great object I received from you today…
    When do you find the time? Never mind… that is a rhetorical question…There is a lot here to respond to. here.. I am going to try to respond, but I am exhausted so the response will bey cryptic…
    The Internet, does it affect our lives? Yes, it can…
    How do people learn to cope with and make sense of complexity? We are wired to do so…. Think about how the world looks to a newborn!

    Listening… Thanks for sharing…

  6. @Mary and Nicola,

    This paper on information mobility by Sue Peters may be of interest to you http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/publications/viewpdf/000269/ where Sue argues that technology is part of the social and that the distinction between human and non human, or social and technical, should not be contested as a dualism but should be studied together, as one. The user needs to be able to have access to the technology in
    terms of whether the user has the need or inclination to use it (motivation), whether they have the knowledge or skill to be able to use it (education), whether they can afford to buy / use it (economic) and whether they actually have the time to use it (temporal). Are teachers and learners well prepared for all these? I find many of my learners still relying on the face-to-face teaching, though they might be fascinated with the use of technology. It may take some more time before people could appreciate and exploit technology, as technology affordance varies in accordance to the context and the people using it.
    @Mary, “when do I find my time?” I still have “24 hours” a day, like what you have. I just need to “manage” my time so as to balance between work, play and learn. How about you? Enjoy your summer break🙂
    @Nicola,
    There are evidences showing that individualism (western basis of thoughts) and collectivism (eastern basis of thoughts) relate to individual/cultural habits and social culture. It could be interesting to study how that would in turn affect our use of technology and social media – and why collaboration (with COP in particular) is so difficult and challenging in society where individualism is emphasized.
    John

  7. Hi John and Mary, thanks for the link to the interesting paper. David Frohlich at the DWRC at Surrey has done some research and design in this area, looking at the social aspects of technologies too, e.g http://www.dwrc.surrey.ac.uk/pdf/Presentations/NewcastleTalk.pdf , and I’m not familiar with this one but http://www.dwrc.surrey.ac.uk/commgeneratedmedia.shtml.
    Sue’s comments about technologies talking to each other reminded me of Roboearth. I agree re challenges re cop – our contexts and relationships with technologies inside them don’t flow maybe? As we view or press buttons on one box after another – or in the case of software and online cops – one community inside a box shaped website – after another. Also her comments about mobility

    There was an interesting SMS study done a few years ago where they followed SMS messaging between couples and they didn’t use sometimes even any text at all but it created a level of intimacy that they couldn’t always experience, particularly if they were frequent travellers. I can’t find the link to it, but these show similar results / ideas as well

    http://www.itu.dk/~barkhuus/mobile-networked.pdf , http://www.mendeley.com/research/mediating-intimacy/

    Have a lovely week to both of you🙂

  8. Hi Nicola,
    Have read the presentation and the site, very informative and interesting. I think the workshop designed for old people is very innovative and engaging. That could be used for virtual workshop, if we are to design one. The papers linked here are useful too.
    The first paper mentions about the basis of social awareness: how people convey availability and capability to communicate in everyday interaction and how they use existing presence system. In reflection, I think the concept of social awareness is equally important in the workplace and in virtual network & social media environment. The connectivity challenge: which often relates to availability and capability to communicate in virtual spaces could be crucial to the formation of weak ties, and the development of strong ties. Is it normally true? If we understand better each others’ availability and capability to communicate (via Twitter (shorter and simpler message), or blogs (more detailed exchange of ideas or experiences), or FB (socialization), then we are more likely to choose the ones that fit into others’ schedules, needs, etc.
    The other paper discusses about patterns of normative patterns of interactive practices – impact of workplace environment in shaping media choice in domestic/social interactions, such that internet communication were used more frequently by office-based participants. That could be an interesting study in our daily interaction with others, both at work and in social media, with mobile devices, and emails etc. One observation was: When I attended a conference years ago, people were using the mobiles to interact with others and those in the conference (Twitter) even when the persons around the table were physically available (face-to-face), and as a result the conversation happened over the Twitter space rather than the face to face. Is this situation typical in an office environment, where colleagues are starting to have emails, Twitter/FB conversation even if they are working “next door”? I reckon this is happening in many workplaces, but am wondering if this would constitute an interesting research.
    John

  9. Hi John, it sounds like very interesting research, thanks for the link to those papers, will read them. I have sat at dinners in the past where some people on the same table were emailing each other using Blackberry messenger, in much the same way as SMS and tweeting. It could be linked to devices too, imagine if your computer mouse also had a twitter/SMS/FB/email indicator or vibration of a new message or as a flashing light, I wonder if we would stop what we were doing and look/respond? Or if new messages started projecting across your desk from the monitor set to a second screen which would be much more public🙂

    Or you just use your mobile phone as a mouse and receive messages in the normal way from internet/mobile networks, but that would degrade the hardware after a while even with a mousemat (or phonemat)

    Your points about whether we would change our social behaviour as a result of being more aware of others circumstances. It would require high levels of trust but imagine if you were using similar email such as gmail – and if you didn’t respond to something within say 2 hours, it is read and processed by machine intelligence and autoforwards it to someone in your email contacts or social networks who has the strongest links to the content. If everyone did it, no need for excessive explanations but may help manage overload? maybe not?

    Nicola

  10. Hi Nicola,
    Wonderful ideas! I think that could be the next generation mobile device (in mobile, mouse etc.) – all in one, with the features you mentioned. May be the mouse/mobile designers should consider this, and you could have it patented, and you could get remuneration out of it.
    John

  11. Hi Nicola,
    Wow, your ideas have been built into the product. I am so glad to learn about it. May be consider a mobile (as a mouse) that could be charged when plugged into computer, or self-charging with solar cells, or other mechanisms.
    John

  12. This video on philosophy sounds interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZTrFpl09s8&feature=related though I want to think more about the logic behind using critical thinking and effective communication. What sort of skills are required to be effective in study and at work? Are those skills the same or different? How would employers view philosophers at work? Are critical thinking skills important? How do they compare to the emotional intelligence (EQ) and social skills (SQ)? This video is a good example illustrating how social media via video could influence our views. Are you convinced? I am, to a certain degree.

  13. Pingback: Are we living in a connected world? | Learner Weblog

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