Hey, wanna take an “ignorance break”?
I heard that quote from adults when I was growing up. As a child, I naively took it literally. Who would want to be stupid I wondered? After all, it felt good when I got A’s on my tests and I was always proud of my report cards. I couldn’t imagine a D or an F and I only settled for a C in college calculus in order to finally meet a graduation requirement.
But now as an adult, I am surrounded by the fast pace of modern technology as I become more immersed in the information age. Frankly I am feeling suffocated by the electronic drama. Taking a time-out for an “ignorance break” is looking rather attractive to me.
“Where is all the knowledge we lost with information?” ( T.S. Eliot)
In my profession, teaching, there almost seems as if there is an obsession with technology and the next, best way to deliver information. I have been in my fair share of educational workshops over the years trying to understand the newest technological trends. Just when I have perfected a new computer program system or an improved feature in the language lab, along comes a better one and I have to claw up the learning curve all over again.
I have started to wonder if we aren’t just repackaging the same stuff. But now, the wrapping is out shining the gift—the knowledge.
Google docs, wiki-spaces, share point, and webinars are now terms in my vocabulary, but I haven’t figured out how to peacefully co-exist with all of them. One day in class I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and so pressured by the need to utilize all of these entertaining forms of delivery that I totally disconnected and broke out the colored chalk and went old-school. My students were amazingly fully engaged in the dry lesson of direct and indirect object pronouns and some even asked if they could come up and try the chalk and diagram a sentence on the blackboard. It was as if I was doing something new!
“We aren’t in an information age; we are in an entertainment age.”(Tony Robbins)
Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that my life has improved with the opportunity to access more information. I fully appreciate additional sophisticated medical data, supplemental, accurate weather information, and the Internet has quickly brought to me knowledge that would have taken years of library visits, most of which would have never have taken place. In addition, I have been able to get my message of hope and recovery to many readers outside of my zip code through my web page, but sometimes there is just too much and it never seems to stop to take a rest. I get exhausted and I feel like my pet hamster must have felt as he went around and around on the wheel in his cage, never going anywhere. Could there come a time when we actually get desensitized by the enormous sensory overload and lose touch with the element of common sense and our need for face-to-face communication? What is too much? When should we take a time-out to analyze rather than continuing to forge ahead on auto-pilot?
“One of the effects of living with electronic information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There’s always more than you can cope with.” (Marshall McLuhan)
Recently I have made a personal pledge not to get sucked into the vortex and spin helplessly in the whirlpool of technology. I am going to try and stay strong and dip my toes in from time to time but only linger for a short time and then retreat back to the shores of my comfort zone. I will try not to be tempted by the waves of endless data and new trends, but rather I will carefully select and process what I can in order to stay current as I continue to learn to manage my personal universe responsibly. If this means that from time to time I have to sideline myself for a “stupid moment”, then I will unplug, and patiently wait for the bliss and embrace it.
Where are you on the information technology scale? Would you like to step back and enjoy a moment of simple happiness? Do you know how? I can give you some ideas if you like. And none of them require an electronic gizmo.