Social media and the occasional need to unplug

I unplugged last week, went north with my wife to our cabin in the woods near Parry Sound.  We brought our two nieces with us for a week of peace in the pure air and sunshine of cottage country, accompanied by the call of loons during the day and wolves at night howling at the crescent moon.  Without electricity, life completely slows to the pace of a moment. It’s de rigueur to say we should “live in the moment” but as we all know, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Being away though at a place where electricity is sparingly used for lights (because I installed only a small solar power system) and water is collected as it falls from the sky, a person can’t help but be mindful of how he goes about living the day.  It’s very therapeutic.  Too bad our decision-makers can’t bring themselves to completely unplug and go away for awhile.  It makes you wonder that if they did, whether we would still have the real and manufactured crises we have.

It’s only slightly related but I read an article in today’s Wall Street Journal called, Social networks can’t replace socializing, in which the author, Jonah Lehrer, argues that we should treat skeptically the notion that social networks can effectively imitate face to face conversations.  I agree. I’m a fairly active user of social media but I don’t ever consider it as enjoyable as having conversation with friends over dinner, for example.  There’s no way technology can master or adequately represent the nuances of human facial expression or voice intonation, let alone the shared experience of consuming food and wine.  Mr. Lehrer goes on to cite other predictions of the past where communication technology was inevitably going to make obsolete the need for face to face communication.  The predictions seem absurd now and so will the latest one that Facebook and Google + will eventually replace the need for people to physically meet.

Why are these ideas related?  Because, in the end, humans need to unplug at times, whether it’s by removing themselves to a remote cabin in the woods or by calling friends over for beer and BBQ ribs on the back deck.  There’s no way social media can replicate these things and as Jonah Lehrer says, “…  the winner of the social network wars won’t be the network that feels the most realistic. Instead of being a substitute for old-fashioned socializing, this network will focus on becoming a better supplement, amplifying the advantages of talking in person.”

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

2 Responses to Social media and the occasional need to unplug

  1. Karen Walker says:

    HI Peter,
    I borrowed a phrase from a friend – “be where your feet are” – as a reminder to get back in the moment.
    Glad to see that you are being well!
    p.s. We have loons on the lake in VT too! Magical.

  2. Peter Armaly says:

    Hi Karen, It’s nice to hear from you. I like that saying and will “re-borrow” your friend’s phrase.

    Yes, things are going very well. The lake helps a lot. It would be nice to get back to Vermont some day…. beautiful place.


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