The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Interesting take on the “Internet Sabbatical” and its ilk. Matthew Malady found it was a waste of time. His reasoning is that giving up constant distractions the online life brings is not equal to the price of giving up the access to instant knowledge available online. His conclusion:

At the end of the experiment, I wasn’t dying to get my phone back or to access Facebook. I just wanted to get back to being better informed.

You’ll likely not be surprised at all to hear that I disagree with his take on this topic. From the account, it sounds like Malady is like most of us; distracted and (attempting) doing many things at once. And yet his experiment did not result in a desire to change.

What’s more, I don’t know that I learned any lessons about my tech usage that would make David M. Levy proud of my efforts, or that will help me use my devices more intelligently going forward.

Perhaps this can happen to people. But perhaps it’s due to how one spends the time offline. Malady confesses his own time may not have been spent in the wisest fashion:

Perhaps even worse, I also watched much more TV than I normally would.

This is a topic that’s going to be a focus for some time, as we learn the full extent how the Internet affects us. From physiology to social norms to environmental concerns, we’re still learning how this new connection and stimulus shapes our lives. To date, we’ve spent far more energy figuring out how to give everyone access than we have how that access will affect them (related).

Obviously, the Internet is enabling … that’s a good thing. A great thing. But it is also addicting, and much of what we’ve done with the connection to knowledge leads to surface living, flicking from one thing to the next. I’d suggest that the knowledge Malady claims to get from the Internet could be described largely as a useless collection of facts (much of which is likely not retained anyway), which is a far cry from wisdom.

Facts without wisdom are just data. Knowledge takes a little more work.