On a personal note, I find myself hounding the topic of digital retreating due to the incredible amount of wasted time I see in my rearview mirror.
At first it can seem justified. The amount of blogs I have read (which as long as they are good credible ones). The amount of chats I have had with friends over the years. The time spent reading good teachers demonstrating how to live one’s best life.
Even in the meta sense, I wouldn’t be writing here if not for finding online such voices as Tristan Harris, Cal Newport, John Mark Comer, and more.
But with enough distance behind me now, I point more at the diminished quality of time spent navigating the digital landscapes.
Justify all I want that I am going to read a peer reviewed journal on an important topic, and there I am looking at inadequate memes which are shallow at best, psychologically manipulative at worst.
The contrast is what I hold onto having this extremely thin set of time I recall in my life as an undergraduate circa 2003-2007. This was a time period before Facebook went wild. Or existed entirely. Or before it made its way onto our phones.
What I see back then was a teenager (I was 17 when I started college), who yes had access to the internet but was there to read the forums, the blogs, but also the physical books and notes from my classes. I was there to concentrate in the library. Even with more computer consoles popping up where there were once just tables and books.
What I see looking backwards is someone with the ability to concentrate on a number of topics and think critically. To challenge things and problem solve. To consume ideas and let them sit in the mind or on a walk about campus.
It’s after with the explosiveness of social media and, though I would go on for a masters, the congruent fading of my formal education for entry into the workforce, that the conditions became ripe for total distraction.
I never put this together like I am now, but, as my formal education ended the rapid nature of information and disinformation sharing on the social media platforms were beginning to spike.
These attention grabbing websites were designed to distract and ever increasingly bring me and anyone else using them into more and more tunnel vision. They promised if anything recreational escape from the day’s chores. For a white collar desk worker, this seemed to be a fine trade off.
But as of now I realize someone like myself who should have kept learning with disciplined rigor beyond a paid education, kept reading, kept critically thinking and challenging the status quo, had instead fallen for the allure of information exchange inside the social media climate.
‘Information‘ it is now, and was back then. But a diminished set of information, resulting in a diminished time.
I do lament the wasted time picking up a phone instead of a peer reviewed journal. Staring into a desktop computer with YouTube open instead of continuing a scholarly approach with a scholarly attitude.
But now it’s time for the march forward with rigor to pick up a book, read it, and go on a walk around the neighborhood instead of a scroll fest on the social media platforms. Future time can be redeemed.