This is the fifth part of “Thinking about Thinking:” a series of posts about how our brains react to technology.
A lot of people are experimenting with escaping from technology. In my last post, we looked at the adventure of five neuroscientists who went on a rafting trip to escape technology.
The group was studying “how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects.” The New York Times chronicled their adventure in an article called Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain.
In September, Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg University of Science and Technology enacted a week-long social media blackout for all students in residence, encouraging them not to use Facebook and Twitter for that week. The students were forbidden from using Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and any other online communication, except for e-mail, during that week.
Obviously, students could get around such bans fairly easily – going off campus was one solution – but many students said they enjoyed the freedom from social media.
In this case, the trend is increased use of social media. For the first time ever, internet users are spending more time on Facebook than on other sites – most notably, Google. The countertrend: neuroscientists, students, and others are disconnecting – even if temporarily – from social media.
In this case, the trend towards more technology use will almost inevitably prevail. For example, at the Journalism 2.0 Summit at the Urban Hive last night, reporters from television, radio, print, web, and more noted the usefulness of social media as a tool to convey news. More and more people are turning to social media to not just connect with friends, but consume, share, and sometimes create news.
So, technology is a part of life. So is social media. This isn’t particularly groundbreaking. However, there are a lot of people very interested in exploring life without it. There will certainly still be occasions when it will be okay – even encouraged – to disconnect from technology and social media, and experience what life was like – calamity! – before the not-so-long-ago days of 100% connectivity.
Note: Before anyone says it: yes, I did post this on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And yes, I recognize the irony. ;)