Posted by: emmajoyce | November 19, 2012

Imbalanced in nature, imbalanced online

Nicholas Carr’s nonfiction book The Shallows discusses the complexities of the Internet as an environment unto its own. He emphasizes the many ways that instant communication and information exchange have shifted our social spheres, our daily routines, and ultimately, the inner-workings of our minds.

Carr references Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden, a 1964 study that commented on technology’s influence. Marx analyzed a conflict that has been central to America’s development and is now a global issue: the pastoral vs. the industrial way of life. Carr writes, “The problem today is that we’re losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind” (168).

Being a writer who loves the outdoors and “place-based” storytelling, I find myself in an interesting cross-section of this debate. A few years ago I attended a nature writing workshop in rural Vermont with prominent environmental writers. We quickly found ourselves in heated discussions about how to best serve our stories, conflicted by a paradox…do we use a Facebook post to suggest, “Get outdoors”?

As carbon footprints indicate, the human population has caused the earth extreme imbalance. I believe this imbalance permeates all aspects of our lives, including our constructed online worlds. Human nature is not limited by physical boundaries. It follows us wherever our thoughts exist.

How do you find balance with your online life? Do you ever go cold turkey and does this make you feel socially disadvantaged?

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