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Balancing Social and Internet Learning

Having taken my thoughts to a close group of friends to look over and (potentially) destroy, several counterpoints to my hypothesis on Our Relationship to Learning have arisen that I think warrant a response.

Consider this response to the advantages of harnessing human questioning over Internet questioning.

What might be the most important [advantage] is that you get human-to-human contact and connection, which is becoming harder and harder to find in this day and age. That personal touch, that human connection is one of the only things that keeps us from flat out becoming computers, and one of the only things that makes being human preferable to being a computer.

It seems I may have been a little too quick to assign advantages. The reason is simple; advantages come to mind so easily that I just chose the first two and ran with them. A little more introspection, however, shows that my first two advantages may have been a bit preemptive, and far from comprehensive.

My point in posting these criticisms of technology is to demonstrate that there is a pattern shift in the way we frame our quest for knowledge that has only been possible since the advent of an Internet search engine. I hope that my thoughts cause awareness, and break down some barriers to asking real people for information and not just assuming the Internet is the best option. I want it to be recognized that we often, rather coldly, shirk human explanation in favor of directing people to the Internet. And that, hopefully, we can alter this path and honor the sacred art of asking.

So, in light of these problems, how can one modify their behavior? Is it as simple as more face to face interaction? Removing Internet use from daily activity completely? What can one do about this paradigm shift?

While I loathe to break the carefully crafted persona of mystery that surrounds me as a critic of technology, it may be appropriate to give a little context to my criticism. Why should you read what I write? Or better yet, why should it be taken seriously? So then, some context.

In earning my Bachelor’s, I avidly studied emergent media technologies and entrepreneurship. I started 6 businesses before I was 23, and consider myself a specialist in the area of Brain Computer Interface (more on that later). My business card (AKA: LinkedIn tagline) reads: Entrepreneur, Inventor, Futurist.

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An accurate depiction of my hubris

My favorite hobby is researching, utilizing both the Internet and real world documentation. All of the knowledge I gain is worthless without my second favorite hobby, which is to take information and synthesize it into simple, understandable bites that people can digest at their own leisure. I live and die by the quote:

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. – Albert Einstein 

It is through my constant study, and deep passion for technology, that I have come to be its critic. I sometimes feel like a method actor. I immerse myself in the Internet so that I can truly portray its essence through my lifestyle. Once my lifestyle is the evangelist for my research, then my “performance” can truly be a critique.

The way that I came to write this article, and indeed the goal of this website, demonstrates the way that technology can be harnessed in tandem with person to person dialogue. I believe this happens in stages of awareness.

  • Gather information from living life and through the world around you. This act is similar to the 8 pieces of brocade that can be practiced before Tai Chi sets. The goal is to gather energy in order to ready oneself for the performance.
  • Once enough experience has been gathered IRL, an idea will start to form. Take that idea to the Internet, and either watch it flourish or die through research.
  • If your idea has survived the trial by fire of carefully scouring the Internet for support, take it to your immediate social circle, calling on their unique expertise and perspectives.
  • Sit on it. Write about it when it comes to you. Let it be a part of your being as you again move throughout the world.
  • Once the idea has been fully internalized, choose to let it become a part of yourself, or choose to let it go.

This is my 5-step process to unite the real world and the world of technology in order to abet learning. No, it’s not an easy process. It requires that you are constantly aware of yourself and the world around you. The people you keep in your life, and who you share it with, are indispensable and necessitate the highest honor and respect. You must learn to navigate the Internet wisely, using search engine tactics, trusted websites and blogs, and the printed word to prove your idea right or wrong. You must be willing to be both right or wrong at all times, sometimes both at once. You must allow your idea to be a part of your entire being and to also let it go completely if it does not prove itself. And you must be intentionally sensitive to how all information you come across is being bought or sold.

If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.

 

My only warning is that choosing to interact with the world in this way can be very depressing. In a sad conversation I recently had with my boyfriend, I asked, “Is it better to be well-informed, or happy?”

To which he just silently stared at me.

I responded, “Unfortunately for me, the answer is always well-informed.”

The upside? I may be sad. I may be angry. I may be irritated, hopeless, overwhelmed.

But I am never unaware.


If you like what you read, feel free to share. Basic Rules: Be civil. We are all people and deserve respect. That’s a hard and fast rule, by the way, it is not optional. Other than that, anything goes.

Interested in many things, but nothing captivates more than technology, entrepreneurship, futurism, and humanity's quest to problem-solve.