unplug to unwind

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Part I.

45 minutes.

That’s the amount of time my phone has been sitting next to me, face down, untouched. Now, I don’t know if this is the exact time because I usually check my iPhone for the time. I do wear a watch everyday, but let’s be real, I look at my phone throughout the day way more than I look at my wrist. It’s a nasty habit. I often click the button on my phone when I have absolutely no need to.

That being said, over these past 45 minutes I have not been concerned with what time it is. I have not been interrupted. My attention span has actually held longer than 3 minutes because I told myself that flipping my phone over is not an option. Occasionally, I just stare at the backside of it, fighting the temptation to quickly check if I had any texts, Snapchats, phone calls, or Facebook or Twitter notifications.

And it has only been 45 minutes.

How much could I have possibly missed out on in a mere 45 minutes? Thinking about this apart from my phone leads me to the logical answer of nothing.

Then why do I feel the need to check my phone every few minutes throughout the day? I am aware of my case of FOMO, the fear of missing out, but right now I am doing what I need to do and want to do, regardless of what could be happening in everyone else’s lives.

And I am okay.

I have not lost all my friends.

I am not unhappy.

Actually, I am peacefully content.

I adore what Anil Dash said in a blog post about JOMO, the joy of missing out:

“There can be, and should be, a blissful, serene enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved to, but are simply skipping,” he wrote.

Let me tell you, this has been a crazy hectic last couple of weeks. I have constantly been on the go, I have an extensive to-do list I need to be completed, my room is a mess, and my future is unknown. This is the first time in a while that my mind feels at rest. It doesn’t seem to be charging in 10 different directions. I don’t feel frantic to be doing anything else than what I am in this moment. I believe I’m experiencing JOMO.

Constantly checking my phone is a habit I don’t want to support any longer. I would much rather feel this peace than the anxiousness I experience from being overconnected and “overcommunicated,” as Joshua Gross said in a blog post.

Hey, look at that. I made it to about an hour and 15 minutes! I deserve a figurative pat on the back for sacrificing that much phone time. Or maybe I am sacrificing real, precious living time whenever I get on my phone. This time of being unplugged is the true treat, not the moment I flip my phone over and slip right back into the life of the iPhone dependent.

And man, do I love dessert.

Part II.

Looking back on the semester, I really enjoyed learning about the theory of the diffusion of innovations and how that theory applied to each communication technology we talked about. I loved seeing the different timelines for the popularization of the radio, phone, television, computer, Internet, social media, etc. I also found it fascinating the similarities between the origins of the technologies, such as the military being heavily involved in the beginning uses of many of the technologies.

You have no idea how many times I bring up concepts I’ve learned in this course, news that I hear about in class, or questions that have been our blog topics. I have a much better knowledge of when and how various communication technologies came about.

The content in this class has caused me to think about the communication technologies I have used throughout my life, what I use now, and what could be the technologies of the future. My main predictions about the future: Google will take over everything (more so than they already have), Facebook will be surpassed by a new social media site, and it will become harder and harder to unplug.



Thoughts on Internet Privacy…

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Privacy is a luxury these days.

You can’t be on vacation without e-mails, phone calls, and text messages about responsibilities at home. Privacy invasion is going even farther now with browser cookies gathering information about you and companies your personal information to third-party organizations. This all translates into what is known as “big data”.

Should we be upset about this or nahhh?

The idea of an unknown person- no, numerous people- having information on me and my Internet habits is slightly unnerving. No one likes to think they’re being tracked. Where’s the freedom in that?

But, how much harm is this really bringing us? Most of the information about us is not that personal. It’s more for the company’s (and our) benefit, not the individual’s harm. They are trying to market more efficiently, so that they use less money and we see more relevant ads.

I’m not going to lie, it did freak me out when I started seeing advertisements for things that interest me on sites that have nothing to do with them. However, I think this will become commonplace and expected by the people. It does make sense.

With that said, I don’t often worry about my privacy settings. I feel like the main data being gathered isn’t going to hurt me. As for Facebook, I have my profile public enough to be found, but private enough to keep my truly personal information safe. Plus, I don’t post very personal, secret comments on Facebook anyways, so there’s not much to worry about. I never tag my location on any pictures, posts or apps. I keep it pretty simple.

Privacy is a luxury few experience these days and you basically have to accept that or not partake in this ever-changing, exciting world we live in.

The Social Media Trap

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I used to be the Facebook queen. If you were my friend, I liked every picture, status, comment you posted. I knew what was going on in everyone’s lives via what they put on Facebook (which was all of their life, right?). I felt so in the know, in the loop, up-to-date, whatever you want to call it.

Lent of 2013 comes along. I pondered what would be difficult for me to sacrifice for 40 days and couldn’t think of a thing. Then a friend (doubtfully) challenged me to give up Facebook for Lent. I used a few lame excuses like “What if I get invited to an event and don’t know about it?” and “I need Facebook messaging because not everyone has my phone number,” but ultimately, I decided to shun Facebook for those 40 days.

And I loved it.

I was out of the loop and it felt so good. I realized that I didn’t need to know everything that was going on. The time that had previously been committed to Facebook scrolling was now being used for talking to the people around me, reading my Bible or any book for that matter, running, doing homework, and all inclusively and most importantly, for living life. Facebook was a cheap substitute for being present in peoples’ lives and my own life.

I am proud to say that Facebook addiction is a thing of the past. I still use it, but I barely spend 2 minutes a day on it.

(Twitter and Instagram are a slightly different story, but hey, baby steps.)

In order for social media to be used for the best, it must be used for its strengths and in moderation. Social media is a uniquely great (and cheap) way to connect those separated by distance, raise awareness for issues, and convey a message to a large group of people. Beyond that, it breaks into the displacement theory and takes time away from other things of quality. Social media users need to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of social media and then use it accordingly.

See the trap and avoid it.