Back off Al Gore, we don’t need no stinkin’ internet (well, maybe just a little bit)


Al Gore's brain child (Courtesy of Google)

I feel – refreshed. I’ve just  found a young person who is not obsessed with the internet.Or Facebook. Or constantly texting and Twittering. For security reasons, I’ll call her  “M.” M is a college student. She uses the internet when she needs to for school or convenience, but she doesn’t have internet access at home. No constant obsession with Facebook. She has  a FB account, but doesn’t really use it much. She can’t shoot off quick status updates or emails to her friends. Instead, she might actually have to call someone, or gasp, talk to them in person. M is not a Luddite; she’s just  a refreshingly practical person who decided that  internet access is low priority compared to all the other places her money needs to go. M is one of my climbing wall buddies. On Wednesday nights while she is scrambling all over the wall like one of the Flying Wallendas, her peers are sitting somewhere drinking high-calorie lattes’ and tapping away at their computers or phones.  M is studying exercise science and outdoor recreation, a focus that could no doubt lead her to a career  someday of getting overweight people to be active and play outside. She shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job, since about 50% of our population is now either overweight or obese

I came home after this conversation feeling renewed and nostalgic, just in time to catch most of Modern Family. Yes, I know here I am expounding about  people sitting around too much and then I come home and watch TV. But I had just been to the gym, so give me a break.

Anyway, in this episode, the mom Claire becomes concerned that her family is spending too much time sitting and using electronic devices. She bans the use of anything electronic for a week  – computer, cell phone, video games, iPad, Pod, Touch, etc and offers a prize to the person who lasts the longest. Of course, in no time at all Claire tries to make an airline reservation by phone instead of online, and quickly caves when she finds out how difficult it is.

Internet, electronic devices – blessing or curse? They’re great for convenience for things like making reservations, instant communication, online banking,

Huffygirl playing outside, pre-internet (© Huffygirl)

shopping and the like. But they can become a curse when they keep us from talking to the person right in front of us, or so occupy us with inactivity that we no longer play outside. I’m concerned when I see a group of people sitting together texting and playing with their phones instead of talking to each other. Or when I see children who are great at video games, but no longer play outside games. And don’t even get me started on our obesity epidemic – that’s another blog all together.  Can we temper our electronic device use to a sensible level like M?  Your comments please. Meanwhile, I’m going for a bike ride.

© Huffygirl

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26 thoughts on “Back off Al Gore, we don’t need no stinkin’ internet (well, maybe just a little bit)

  1. Yes! I certainly agree and Fred Armisen makes fun on Portlandia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwfcXovNmQw But – I must say, as a teacher of Adult Professional students (in composition and research) who some don’t have internet b/c they don’t have the funds, they must spend lots of time in Libraries and at the campus computer labs. Also, they must research hours online, through the online library. I am hoping that cable companies don’t infringe on the internet because of these students who can’t afford it and will be cut off from education. I also use Youtube and other streaming sites like E-How in the classroom for visual and auditory learners. If I couldn’t use those videos in the classroom, my classroom would be less dynamic. Just a few thoughts…I agree about the technology hogs – but it comes down to parenting and inner motivation…hmmm, what’s that, huh? 🙂

    • Absolutely LOVED the video!
      I actually am surprised that M can manage school so well without internet access at home. When I was in school I was constantly getting online to the library or posting papers or participation to the class site. I would have had to run over to campus constantly had I not had internet access at home. Many young people today though, are not afraid to use their work computers for personal use which helps, although I’d be loathe to do this.

      You make a very important point about the use of the internet in your classroom – in the current day and age we would be remiss to not use this resource. It would be akin to going back to writing on slates. But all things in the right balance. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  2. This past weekend we hosted a birthday party for my mom-in-law. Initially all of the kids were being drawn to my son’s room like a moth to the light. He is 21 and his room is a “gamers” dream come true. I gave him the stink eye and “suggested” that he come out and join the party. He complied and the next thing you know all of the kidds are outside; tossing the football and playing a couple of games my husband had set up in the yard. Then the adults began to join in…sometimes all thats needed is a little help from the “mom stink eye” to get things started. LOL!

  3. Even in my early 30s, my mom still whips me into shape. Recently she told me that if all I am going to do is text when I come visit, I shouldn’t bother. So now, the phone stays in my purse! I agree with your post, we all need to go offline to remember we can and have survived without it.

  4. I agree that electronic technology is being overused and becoming akin to the lowly match. When used properly, a match is a gateway to all kinds of innovative (not to mention delicious) things. Improper or excessive use leads to widespread destruction. The match relates to physical things, but e-tech refers to mental and spiritual, as well as physical, activities. Even water can become poisonous if drunk to excess.

    However, I would like to point out one of the boons to our society…the use of the internet for disabled people who can’t get out, or at least can’t get out very easily. For the very disabled, sometimes the only interaction they have with people other than their family is online.

    I can’t walk easily and use a wheelchair or in the summer my scooter (with racing stripes :P). The internet has opened doors for me that never would have been possible before that.

    • You’re right Sandra – the internet opens all sorts of doors, and I’m not suggesting we get rid of it or stop using it. After all, how would we do our blogging? My concern is the people who are online so much that they miss life going on around them.

      With your match analogy above, sounds like you’ve got enough for a blog – you could carry that in just about any direction.

      I hope you don’t run me over if I ever see you on your scooter 😉

      • I had gone downtown last summer, very jaunty in my blue scooter. I came across an older guy on a scooter and asked him if he wanted to race. I had just got my new scooter and it went twice as fast as my old one. So we started off. Before long, this guy was giving me his dust to eat as he faded out of sight.

        Damn! He was on oxygen too! That’s what I get for being too cocky 😛

  5. Well, I’m avoiding wii/guitar hero. I’m hoping my husband will get my son out for more baseball/soccer stuff. I don’t know the proper mechanics to show my son hitting and kicking correctly. he’s developing bad habits…so my hubby will be working w/him more. When he’s old enough, I’d rather get him guitar lessons than play on the tv.

    Some of us have to be on the computer more due to be laid off and having to figure a way to earn money while being at home. That requires a computer to learn/see what others are doing… advertise your services/blogger, etc. or sell your goods online like art and such and having to market that.

    So, yes, I’m struggling w/trying to find proper balance. It’s hard trying to figure out “what to do” and then building that business takes time. However, sometimes I do need to know when to stop. A good thing, blogging has opened up meeting other people in other states. So, even though I can’t travel, I’m able to meet others and learn about life in their area. It’s the closest I will ever get to Australia/England, etc. I can’t afford life, let alone a trip outside of my country.

    Sandi

    • Sounds like you’re finding the right balance with technology Sandi. But if I were you, I’d get out there and play a little sports with your son, even if you think you don’t know how to do it. I’m the world’s most uncoordinated person, but even I could throw a little whiffle ball when the kids were little.

  6. I really don’t like all the technological advances that much. While I do blog, I really don’t use the PC for much else. I still have the worlds oldest cell phone that has no bells and whistles, I have never sent a text message, have never tweeted, I don’t own a flat screen TV, and other than the news, I really don’t even watch much TV….though Modern Family is awesome! I am PHIL!! 🙂

    • Gee, and I thought I had the world’s oldest cell phone. I finally had to replace it because the associates at Verizon would laugh so hard when I brought it in that I was afraid they were going to choke.

  7. I had a friend not to long ago that kept getting calls from her phone provider to pleeeese give up her analog (shoe) phone, offering her all kinds of deals.
    I was moved by the photo of you and your bicycle. When I got my sister’s hand me down bike, it was my first real taste of freedom. My brother and Dad worked on it for weeks. I was in my thirties before I found out that my red bike was her old blue one. Thanks for the moment.

    • Thanks for sharing your bike story. My story is similiar – my dad bought a used boy’s bike, and painted it PINK for me. Sure had lots of fun on that bike though.

      My son just got a new iPhone – it looks like fun and for a brief moment made me wish I had one. But then I got a vision of all of us sitting around the house together, playing with our phones instead of talking – whew, caught myself just in time. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I was just saying the other day how great the internet is for research purposes. I remember the days of having to wait for a library to open before you could get an answer. On the other hand, lots of time is wasted researching things I don’t really need to know.

    • That’s true – we end up researching things like “how to get tulips to stand up in a vase.” Fortunately we also research important things too to make up for it.

  9. Any technology is a double edged sword. When guns were invented they were a huge help in putting dinner on the table. Today we use them more on each other, than for providing food. Most things are tools that can be used for good or ill. I spend my days devising new technology. My advice is to approach all new technology with skepticism, even cynicism. Always ask, “what’s the price of this new gismo?” I’m not talking about $$ here.

    • All excellent points Ray. Early adopters who often jump on the latest technology bandwagons (remember 8-track and beta?) should heed your warning. Sometimes first is not best. Your caution is especially foreboding coming from one in the technology industry. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  10. Great post and the comments are thought provoking. I agree with all the above on finding balance – isn’t that true for everything? My kids are techno-geeks and as both my husband and I have spent a lifetime in technology careers, I see the benefits. As a mom though, I’m with the comments above – they need rules and limits and mom’s guidance to learn. My kids are not allowed to touch their phone when I am driving them anywhere. Their ‘cost’ of the ride is a conversation.

    • Good idea with the phones in the car. I’m definitelly not against technology, but like most who commented on this, see the dangers of substituing technology for personal interaction.

  11. You know I go for simple in technology. Cell phone (probably older than yours) mostly for urgent messages, no tweeting (remember when only birds did this?) But I do use the Internet for classroom research, and it has saved me hours of library time. I think the responsibility really lies with us, to always strive for balance in our lives.

  12. I was at a city council meeting on Monday, and South Bend is going to be one of the first cities in the U.S. to consider an ordinance that regulates use of electronic devices by city officials ans council members during meetings. It has to do with open door laws and public records. The concern is that if someone received information or a text during a meeting, that it might have to become a matter of public record. One member objected, afraid that if his daughter texted him “Good night, Daddy” at 9 p.m., that someone else on the council might accuse him of receiving a text during a meeting and he would have to suffer the penalties outlined in the ordinance. A citizen said that it’s too bad that people can’t just observe common courtesy to ignore test messages when they’re supposed to be participating in meetings with other people. And besides, our city officials are there to serve the community, and text messages can wait.

    • Exactly. A city council member at a meeting is “at work.” There should be some separation of work time and personal time. Texting at work should be frowned up as using work time for personal time. Are we so self-centered that we can’t separate ourselves from our personal electronics while being paid to use our time for our employer? I know many people would object to not being allowed to text or use their personal phone at work. Before we had cell phones, if someone needed to make or receive a call during work hours, they had to use the business phone. So naturally, sensible people confined their personal use of the business phone to urgent matters. Those who chose to use the business phone for excessive personal use often found themselves without a job.

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