Real Thinking In An Increasingly Virtual World

Posted on January 19, 2012 by


I sometimes find myself suffering from what can only be described as Internet brain– the tendency for online discoveries, conversations, and ways of relating to creep into my “real life” whether I want them to or not. Often the more time I spend online, the worse it gets. Thankfully, there is a cure for Internet brain but it does require decreased amounts of time online, which we bloggers tend to have a harder time accomplishing than most.

1.  Spend more time talking to flesh and blood human beings than surfing the web: One of the best ways I have found to keep from thinking in pithy comebacks and graceless black and white is to connect more with actual people.

2.  Avoid conversing with people while using the computer. This should be a no-brainer, on par with having the decency not to talk on your cell phone in the presence of others. It’s rude. I don’t do it, but I running into increasing numbers of people who do and this poor etiquette certainly does nothing to improve on one’s interpersonal communication skills.

3.  Read more books. There is a lengthening of thoughts and deeper level of ideas reading forces that smaller articles don’t provide. One of the things that blogging did for me was helped me to quickly and clearly express my perspective on complex issues. The downside is that I often found myself in the habit of spitting out simplistic answers in response to complex issues that are far more nuanced in ways I would readily acknowledge if I wasn’t thinking virtually as opposed to looking at it from a more realistic vantage point.

4. Be in the moment. This is the hardest one for me because my personality is naturally geared toward looking forward at the next thing on my never-ending list of things to do. Internet brain exacerbates that because not only am I thinking ahead, some of the smallest and insignificant occurrences have a way of catapulting my brain back to a lively or interesting discussion I engaged on the web. It can be a little distracting, especially when in conversation with someone who could care less about the history of Austrian economic theory, the breakdown of the family as a result of obliterating gender roles, or misandry as a cultural meme.

5. Schedule Internet time blocks. There are certain times of the day and night that I simply do not go online unless it is absolutely necessary. It’s just that simple. In fact, I am running up on a hard break right now so I’ll be wrapping up this post and leaving room for you to share how you manage Internet usage in your lives.

Those are a few of the techniques I am employing to help me think in a deeper, more expansive way than is required in online discussions. As much as I enjoy the learning and dialogue that takes place in  here, real life is lived out there. Too much screen time can cause us to forget how to live it.

Posted in: Relationships