A year ago last January, I wrote a post on “Balanced Connections.” At the time, there were a lot of people talking about how our children don’t spend enough time away from the computer or TV or video games. I’m one that definitely agrees kids need to have some offline time.
More recently, my own family has mentioned to me that maybe I’m online too much. There are times when it’s difficult to put down the Blackberry or step away from my laptop, because there are SO many great ideas flowing with people in my network. At times, it’s difficult for my family to understand that I’m working… not just chatting with my friends. I do agree, however, that guidelines must be in place about when it’s appropriate to bury your face in your Blackberry. Dinner time with the family is definitely not that time.
Today, I read an OpEd article in the NY Times, “Tweet Less, Kiss More.” The opinion is that we need to spend more face-to-face time and not bury ourselves too much into technology. I agree. I definitely take time off the grid, so to speak, to read, spend time with the family, and participate in activities that are no-tech or low-tech.
Friday, I caught an episode of House, M.D. right after eating dinner. I don’t watch too many TV shows regularly, but it was on (and I love Hugh Laurie) and this episode really grabbed my attention early. The short version of the plot: a woman blogs about everything in her life… contracts some mystery ailment, and House and crew have to solve the puzzle to save her life. While they are contemplating her symptoms, the doctors are scratching their heads, asking themselves why anyone would be so public with their lives- where’s the privacy? Why would you want to blog literally about every activity in your life? Then Peter Jacobson’s character, Dr. Chris Taub makes a statement that privacy is actually not the norm… it’s a relatively “new” concept. For centuries, people lived in small villages and everyone always knew each other’s business. Privacy is more of a 19th-20th century invention.
At that point, my brain went, “AHA!” He’s right. One of the biggest complaints I hear from people who do not have an online presence is that sharing information about oneself online is an invasion of privacy and why would we want to share every facet of our lives with people we don’t really know? In the House episode, the patient/blogger maintains that she DOES know the people she communicates with online. Just because she’s never met them in person doesn’t mean they don’t have meaningful relationships. And… I agree with her, too.
How can I agree with the “Tweet Less, Kiss More” writer AND with the blogger in the House episode at the same time?
It has to be about BALANCE.
When we hear people talking about kids needing balance, they are usually referring to more OFFline time. A lot of educators who don’t spend time online are the biggest proponents for kids needing more offline time.
BUT… how many of our educators really have that balance they want for kids? I’m wondering if enough of them actually spend enough time online?? Is there value in having an online presence? Yes. Can you still have a life outside of Twitter and blogs and wikis and Flickr and… YES. You have to have those guidelines that I mentioned above, but it’s definitely possible.