Testing the Waters Online
I was sitting on the beach watching the waves crash onto the beach. The ocean was very rough and there was a strong undercurrent to the waves. I know that even on the calmest day I can easily become overconfident in my swimming abilities which can swiftly lead to disaster. I can easily remember two times when I had close calls and wasn’t sure I would make it to shore. After those experiences, I have become even more aware of the sheer power of water and in this case the ocean to change lives for better or worse.
Thinking about the ocean reminded me of another life-changing force, the internet. These days I feel like I’m using the internet more in every area of my life because of COVID-19. I’m using it to acquire news, for fun, to socialize, and to do work. I find it easy to use, convenient way to get what I want and need. I find myself spending more time online than before COVID-19.
Recently I was asked if I thought the internet was better or worse due to the changes caused by the pandemic. To me, it wasn’t a simple question because I feel like the internet has a mixed effect of bad and good on people and institutions. I believe that the internet is very similar to the ocean in that it requires respect and care in the way it’s approached. I think there is a blend of reward and risk whether you’re swimming in the ocean or surfing the web. I feel like COVID-19 has intensified our use of the internet and thereby highlighted trends that had already been going on before.
I have found personally the biggest effect of the pandemic on my increased technology usage is communication. I find myself using technology as a substitute instead of seeing people in person be it talking on the phone, texting, or messaging. This is convenient and easy to do. At first, during the beginning of the epidemic during the time when we were supposed to stay home, this was a wonderful way to connect to others. However now that things have changed, I find myself needing to moderate how much time I spend online socializing. I feel like for me too much online socializing and not enough in-person socializing can be detrimental to my mental health and social skills.
I personally believe that spending time in person with people that I care about is incredibly important to both my mental and physical health. The benefits of socializing in person currently don’t translate very well to electronic media no matter how advanced the technology.
Getting back to the question I was asked about the effects of the pandemic on our technology use. I don’t think it’s made things better or worse, I just think that it’s revealed and intensified our interactions with the internet. Having a better idea of what’s going on allows us to make more intentional choices about how we use this amazing technology in our everyday lives. For me it comes down to moderation, balancing my online life with my real life. Moderation and deciding how to use technology is an incredibly personal choice. I urge everyone to think carefully about how they use and think about the internet. Best wishes to my readers for safe internet use.