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This is a thought provoking topic and one that requires some personal reflection. As with many of the topics we have delved into throughout this class, there are key points to think about on both sides of the debate. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I want to underscore what I consider to be the most important factor concerning this topic and more importantly life in general: BALANCE!
The numbers quoted in regard to “time spent plugged in” are staggering, especially the time spent online quoted in the video “If this video doesn’t convince you.” It puts things into perspective for me, because like so many, I am insanely busy most days. Why then do I feel the need to spend countless hours on my phone or other device? The answer is actually quite simple; technology allows me the opportunity to connect with many of my family and friends when I am able to do so; at the game, practice or waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Social media provides me with a forum to stay in touch beyond my yearly Christmas card and the odd email. Using technology I have been able to reignite the close relationship I used to enjoy with a cousin living in Halifax, catch up with friends from high school and university and share precious photo memories with family living in Ontario, who would otherwise not be able to watch my children grow up. Is this a rich form of communication? Probably not, but honestly I believe it is far more than I would be able to achieve without the use of technology
In contrast, like many other pastimes, incessantly posting and messaging on social media can and has become for some, an obsession of sorts. This is where the importance of balance and self-control comes in. Individuals need to take responsibility for their habits; the reason for the constant attachment to social media is not to be found with the social media, it needs to be investigated as part of the choices people are making in their lives. Like any addiction, those who are struggling need to look inward to find the cause of the issue. Ultimately, there is a complex reason for the dependency that cannot be investigated and understood simply by removing the object of addiction. There is a deep rooted cause for the behaviour.
Earlier this week I was introduced to this video about MeanTweets (yes on social media!) and I believe there is a connection to this topic engrained in the message shared within this clip. There are some people who use social media to promote ideas that are disturbing and who hide bravely behind their keyboards because it is easy to post rather than share ideas and comments in a face to face manner. In my opinion, this is the dark side of openness and being continuously plugged in. Perhaps a simple guideline might be “do not write things you are not willing to say in person”. Once again though I believe these ideas related to “digital citizenship” are personal value choices, worthy of teaching our students. It is essential to promote the “good” and not dismiss all of the important contributions technology makes to our lives. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
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So, the question remains; do we need to unplug? I think the answer is quite clear; we need to find balance with the use of technology, just like we need to find balance in many aspects of life from exercise to television watching, to working. The balance we strike in our lives is a personal choice but essentially just that; a choice. If we can embrace the positives of being connected to others through technology and work to alleviate the cons from impacting our lives negatively, we will learn to live in a harmonious balance that is tailored to our individual existence.
Cree Medicine Wheel
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