Nathan Jurgenson writing an essay about the romanticized view that society now holds for “real life” and “offline”, culminating with a series of final paragraphs that are absolutely perfect. Jurgenson states near the end:
That is, we live in an augmented reality that exists at the intersection of materiality and information, physicality and digitality, bodies and technology, atoms and bits, the off and the online. It is wrong to say “IRL” to mean offline: Facebook is real life.
This is a concept that I struggle with more and more now that I have a daughter. The idea of whether or not, and how to, introduce her to gadgets, computers, and digital life — these are the questions that I really struggle with. What compounds this, of course, is my love for always being connected and “online”.
I have to think that this is just a phase in our societal norms. Was a horse carriage romanticized as the motor vehicle was taking over? Was the written letter romanticized as the telephone began to permeate society? Swords over guns? The shovel over tractor? The outhouse over indoor plumbing?
My point is that — as Jurgenson writes — real, offline, life is so completely intertwined with technology that it borders on absurdity to think otherwise. That camping trip you took to get away from technology? Did you really take it to get away from technology, or did you actually take it to rid yourself of email access for a couple of days? Meaning: did you ditch GPS, flashlights, stoves, tents and the like? And if you really took it to “go offline”, were you truly ever offline, or was it a hiatus until you could post about these exploits on Facebook — wait your did take a picture while you were camping and select the perfect Instagram filter for it, didn’t you?
I don’t buy the notion that we can ever fully unplug and I also think that is a very good thing that we never need to fully unplug.
Of course, some people can be so nose down in their gadgets that they are maddening to be around, but you can always DM them if you need their attention…