Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a special holiday to me.  I find it to be an excellent opportunity to, in addition to giving thanks, focus on self reflection and contemplation (The post-dinner sluggishness lends itself particularly well to deep cannot think on an empty stomach).  It is a time, unlike the winter holidays, where the only "present" we receive is spending time with family and friends.

In the spirit of the holiday, I would like to continue to preach an idea I have been discussing recently on this blog: technological moderation.  Thanksgiving is indeed a perfect time for us to try and take a little vacation from our technological tethers.

To be clear, I am not talking about rejecting all modern convenience.  As far as I can tell, it is the internet, and in particular the social internet, which fetters and restrains us.  Some may get nervous without their cell phones for too long (I have been keeping mine on-my-person but switched off more and more lately), but too many people seem to compulsively check and re-recheck email, Facebook and other social networking sites  - on phones, lap-tops, video game consoles, tablets...etc.

A friend of mine recently attended an event wherein Arianna Huffington (editor in chief of the Huffington Post) spoke about how we can use technology and the social internet to address important issues of social rights.  On a side-note, she asked if people in the audience sleep next to their phones and computers (guilty).  She recommended that people strongly consider allowing themselves the nightly break from the seemingly endless stimuli that flows freely through smart-phones and lap-tops.

Although I would find it incredibly difficult to follow her advice, I appreciate the noble sentiment.  Huffington's recommendation may be a bit extreme, nevertheless we can give ourselves holidays from technology.  We can turn our phones and computers off on Thursday (or longer throughout the weekend if you want!?!), allowing us to actually give thanks for everything in the real world.

As it happens, I think we (collectively as passionate internet users) need this "vacation," and many more like it.  We have to remind ourselves of the feeling of real social interaction, the wonder of the real world, and most importantly, the appreciation that the social internet is a tool that does not rule our lives.

And, as the old adage goes, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." Indeed our vacations from the social internet will only make us love and want it more.

So please, have a happy and fulfilling, drink, talk, and celebrate too much, and give yourself a much needed break from your iPhone.