The importance of reality

1. The tragic case of Simone Back, who posted her intention to commit suicide on her Facebook page and none of her 1,048 online ‘friends’ bothered to check up on her. She died alone on Boxing Day.

2. Author Nicholas Carr’s new book, The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember. In it, he suggests that the internet makes us stupid by being nothing more than a giant distraction machine that undermines our ability to make decisions for ourselves.

3. A full page editorial in American Vogue, headlined: ‘This is not the internet. Feel free to curl up and settle in’. It continued, ‘Magazines don’t blink on and off. They don’t show video or deliver ads that pop out of nowhere. You can’t DVR magazines and you can’t play games on them. But you can take one to the beach, to bed or just about anywhere else and, chances are, it will engage, entertain and enlighten you in ways no other medium can.’

I believe all three are linked. On the one hand it provokes debate as to the true value of the internet: does it anaesthetise us to reality and the part we play within it? After all, if we increasingly accept everything online as a facsimile of the physical world, at what point do the boundaries blur between the two? It reminds me of the tale of the child who, at her first football match, requested that her father pause the action so she could go to the bathroom. Once we stop laughing, we might consider what this conveys regarding perceptions of reality for our future generations.

And so to magazines… Like books, they are an unapologetically analogue medium. And yet statistics show that, despite most content being available online, we love the experience of reading something tactile. I suspect it’s because reading is an activity that must be consciously engaged with, the time invested is amply rewarded. Reading has the power to alter perspectives and cause introspection which is good, as it’s all too easy today to become numb to the emotive world around us.

Of course, it’s not that technology is bad – that would be overly simplistic. Rather, we must be more mindful of how it’s used, being wary of mistaking convenience for meaningful communication, information for inspiration and ultimately the virtual for the real. In this way, deaths like Simone’s might be avoided, and books and magazines will retain their priority in the pantheon of learning.

Written on my iPad 😉

Categories: Life, Musings

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