A Fresh Appreciation of Technology and the Internet

by Ken Mueller on August 27, 2012 · 27 comments

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You may not have noticed, but I’ve been gone for three weeks. Oh, I’ve been around, but a few weeks ago I decided to take a week-long blogging sabbatical to take care of some family matters. And then I got sick, and one week turned into three weeks. In retrospect, I needed those three weeks off to recharge and give myself a bit of a rest. Three years of blogging every day can certainly take a toll on you. But this less than voluntary break did take its toll on me.

In some ways, I really missed blogging, not just for the writing component of it, which I love, but also because of feeling disconnected from my blogging community. The members of that community have become a part of my daily life, and much of our online conversation takes place in the comments of various blogs. When that’s not happening, I definitely feel a void.

But while being disconnected for much of the time, and only on social media platforms for a limited amount of time, I gained a new sense of appreciation for the role that technology and the Internet play in our lives. Here are a few of my thoughts and observations:

1. The importance of connections – When you’re laid up in bed for a bit, the outside world seems far away. While I didn’t get online much, I was touched by the private messages I got from a number of friends wondering what was wrong. I couldn’t always respond, but it was nice to have people checking in on me. The importance of this for those who are truly confined to their homes for longer periods of times or permanently is undeniable.

As for my family, my wife was down in NC with her parents for a week with no Internet access at all. The ability to text each other throughout the day was what kept us both sane.

And since I get Twitter DMs pushed to my phone, I even had the chance to meet a few online friends who were swinging through my town for a short period of time. Even though I felt horrible, it was worth dragging myself out of bed to meet them.

2. The importance of online information – During the past month the Internet was a great source of info, from researching local retirement communities and nursing homes (not for me!) to laying in bed trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and to find the only 24-hour pharmacy in our area. When you’re in major pain in the middle of the night, you don’t want to lay in bed until morning in order to get your antibiotic and painkiller prescriptions!

3. The importance of mobile – While I was laid up in bed, I didn’t have my computer, so in the middle of the night I was limited to my small 5″ Samsung Galaxy Player (Android). It was a lifesaver. As I searched the Internet for information, I was grateful for mobile optimized sites, and painfully reminded of how difficult it is when a site you want to use doesn’t work well on mobile devices. The increased and rapid pace of mobile adoption by users makes it that much more important for businesses to make sure that their websites are ready for this shift. It’s already happening.

4. The failure of directory sites – I’ve never been a fan of the online Yellow Pages or other directory sites, but my experiences during this time made me dislike them even more. Trying a simple search for “24-hour pharmacy Lancaster PA” was excruciating. I kept getting directory lists of what SHOULD have been 24-hour pharmacies, but we only have one in the area. The directory listings did nothing but give me more lists of pharmacies, whether they were open 24 hours or not.

If you have a website, do your own optimization for search engines, and don’t waste your money on directory sites. Google is already a directory. Those directory sites do nothing but muddy up the digital waters.

5. The rapidly changing entertainment landscape – During the past month, Netflix has been my best friend. My 5″ tablet is perfect for watching videos, playing Words with Friends, and keeping up with other forms of entertainment, including the Olympics. Convergence is happening, and recent studies from Pew and others are showing some rather exciting possible futures for television and the entertainment industry. It’s pretty darn exciting, and we can’t even fathom where all of this will be in the next five years.

So I’m glad to be back, heading into a very busy Fall season with my work load and a heavier than normal teaching load. I’m looking forward to it, and now that I’m back on the blog, I’m also looking forward to really reconnecting with all of you.

Have you ever taken an involuntary break from the Internet and social media? Did it give you a new appreciation or fresh perspective on technology?

 

 

 

 

 A Fresh Appreciation of Technology and the Internet
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26 comments
C_Pappas
C_Pappas

I have been gone the last couple weeks too and my blog is getting dusty.  Like you, I dont like it and I need to get back to it. I find myself with more excuses than ever and it's disheartening. Need to snap out of it!

 Ive missed you, your posts and your tweets so happy to have you back. Hope all is well!!!

TheJackB
TheJackB

Good to see you back. I haven't taken much of a break from the web in quite some time but I can see some real advantages to doing so. I imagine it helps to recharge the batteries a little bit.

Latest blog post: Writers Write Right Part 2

vmaione
vmaione

Glad you're back, Ken. I missed your posts! August is a good month to take a break (IMO) -- many clients are on vacation or taking kids back to school/college, etc.  I admire you and others (e.g., Gini D.) who can crank out great posts day after day. A special talent!

Mark_Harai
Mark_Harai

Welcome back Ken!With my work flow the way it is today, I have prolonged time away from the web quite a bit. My appreciation for the social web continues to grow stronger, one relationship at a time. The total social experience is enhanced when you realize how far and deep you can take relationships once they form.I do enjoy the in-person meetings and getting business done; but there's something magical about the social web and communicating primarily through writing... It's a deeper, interesting and more satisfying process.Cheers sir!

girlseeksplace
girlseeksplace

A break from the internet, voluntary or not, sounds brilliant! Glad you're on the mend.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Hope you're feeling totally recuperated soon! I'd seen a post (on fb maybe?) that indicated you were taking a bit of time, so I wasn't worried about your absence. But I'm sorry to hear that it became extended due to illness. Wishing you a speedy recovery from whatever ails you.I do, and I will, take breaks. It seems we've all had some bumps in the road lately. The old saying that "things happen in 3's" was my reality, about 3 times over lately, with tragic news, bad news, friends' "challenges" and others' needs pulling at both heart and head. I took a little 2-day hiatus, and will continue to do so. I do love the people I connect with, but I also see how much I can be drawn into the vortex, and when that vortex is neither fulfilling nor healthy.

Take good care, and ditto all the "welcome back"'s. Cheers! Kaarina

Shonali
Shonali

Are you better now, Ken? As you know, I've been going through some "stuff" myself, so I haven't been online that much myself. Because you & I are connected through FB, and I saw an email come through from you, I didn't really feel like you were "off." I'm glad you were able to recharge and are doing better now.

annelizhannan
annelizhannan

So nice to have you back. 

With social media we often develop a schedule of reading and/or commenting on our favorite blogs as part of our daily routine.  It becomes a ritual of comfort and organization for the start of the day much like listening to the radio talk show on the drive time to work. Over the past three weeks my coffee had a bitter taste without the added richness of your blog posts. Today it is back to being sweet, creamy and robust. Thank you and continue to be well. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@TheJackB I got a little bit of a recharge, but not as much as if I'd been healthy and off doing fun, relaxing things. Actually, blogging is pretty relaxing for me, so I'm glad to be back at it!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Mark_Harai I'm with you. I'm amazed at how deep some of these relationships can become. Many, many great friends here.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@KDillabough It's been a crazy month, and I'll be glad to say "Goodbye!" to August, that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@jasonkonopinski Yeah, this was a one-week break I took begrudgingly that went much longer than expected. Still trying to ease my way back in to my old schedule before the really busy September hits with a lot more classes and bigger projects.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shonali I'm better, but still going through a series of tests. Just got back from a bunch this morning. One more round in a month, and then hopefully all done!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@annelizhannan Glad to be back. Took me awhile to get back in the groove, that's for sure. Hopefully I can jump right into my daily schedule. Now...what to blog about for tomorrow...?

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