Friday, January 25, 2019

"My Strange Addiction": Harvard undergraduate talks about tech dependency, but the real world offers him a lot

Canadian undergraduate Harvard computer science student John Fish has an important video (from June 2018), “My Strange Addiction”, where (at the end of his freshman year at Harvard, apparently at age 19) he talks about his intermittent addiction to technology.

He does discuss a number of time-off strategies, like timeboxing. He also notes he has unfollowed most people on social media and doesn’t allow algorithms to tempt him into looking at new materials.

A couple of reactions.  First, if you’re in high school or college or in a campus environment (or a faith-based environment) that gives you a lot of ways to get “recognition” from others, you really don’t “need” social media very much.  I do have a few friends with which there is almost no interaction on social media, because that seems to work better with these particular persons for individualized reasons.  So, yes, if you can give a piano recital at church or direct a church play or manage a summer retreat (even abroad – Belize) and that work for you, so much the better.  In fact, most people who want to get into film or video may do better with some specific focus and not try to pay attention to everything.  John’s own passion was track running. 

In general, it is much easier for younger adults with means to look for real world social interactions outside social media in the real world, than it might be for older adults.

There’s another problem, for me.  I find, outside of specific people with specific interests or circumstances, no reason to value “social interactions” with “people my own age” for companionship reasons only.  Yet, that is the idea that is pushed in senior living.  I hate to think what life would be like without independence (like in structured assisted living).  It is hard to place “value” on interaction with the other person just on the basis of “need” alone.

There is a bit of a paradox.   Fish makes weekly videos, which seem to earn income for him and which make him very appealing.  So when is reaching out of the real world of people most accessible to you most appropriate?

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