Balancing The Digital Age

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Once upon a time, there exists “reality” – a time synced to being offline for several hours a day. A time to step outside and feel the wind, smell the flowers, hear the birds chip, taste the delicious eggs made by mom for breakfast and see the green, luscious fields. There were no online social networking, no necessary gadgets to “fit in” to society, and no 24/7 internet connection. It’s purely life disconnected from the addicting virtual atmosphere of the world wide web. That was then.

The birth of the internet industry paved the way to new and incredible innovations that were once deemed as “science fiction” in hit cartoon series like The Jetsons in the early 90s. Today, even a little child barely old enough to talk already has a Facebook account set up by his tech-savvy parents. The Digital Age has risen – several speedy years ago. The peak of it’s existence is still undetermined but as of now every bit of development has a pounding impact to the human race.

A huge chunk of society are devoted internet users (including me) – relying on e-mails, online banking, website design and development, blogging, social networking, research, daily news reading, large file sharing, e-commerce, and practically everything you could think of. It’s limitless! Being connected and disconnected are two opposite statuses on this industry. It’s a distinctive measure of your presence in both worlds. It’s the life today!

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Recently, I had a lot of “me time” in the past couple of days. I had coffee with some of my friends, talked to real people, and spent a lot of percentage of my hours staying offline. And then, I observed the world around me.

I was at this donut joint and I sat at the far corner. With my notebook ready, a hot cup of coffee, and two donuts, I jot down my observations: A group of friends on the adjacent table busy with their tablets and smartphones and they didn’t even realize that they are “actually” in front of one another. Next came a couple who are arguing about their Facebook relationship status. Then arrived a businessman who is skyping on his iPhone while putting down his order of chocolate-coated donuts. Wow. The whole joint is connected!

It is amazing to see the changes so clearly that it made me feel giddy about writing my opinions down on my notebook and show them to the world. Thus, this blog post. 🙂

I was having pizza with my friend the other day and we talked about the new innovations of technology and the possible impact it would have on children in the future. And I told him “for sure most of the kids will be attached to their complicated gizmos.” Even so, I added “maybe if technology will eat out the time of these kids, they will end up obese or maybe internet zombies.”

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Moving over to another topic, he asked me why I still don’t own a smartphone given the fact that (most) every web designer should have one. The reason behind his question is perfectly simple. I answered “because I need time to be offline. That’s why I travel and detach myself from the virtual life.” He then moved to the conclusion that it’s somehow ironic.

True enough, indeed, it’s ironic. Being online since the start of the emerging industry, I was trying to achieve a balance between real life and the digital age. I guess all we need is a moment to think about the degree of our attachment to the virtual world in order to compensate it with a few offline times.

Eventhough my work involves being online most of the day, I do strive to have that time – the real time. A few more years from now, I guess the whole Earth will be interacting socially online and it’s very scary. The mere fact of recognizing the offline and online presence will already be a stepping stone to having a “sane” and well-balanced life.

Let’s not get too attached to the internet, shall we? 🙂

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