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Digital Fluency: How to tame the Internet Beast.

April 17, 2018

It could be argued that digital culture is impacting our lives beyond our expectation. We've turned up the digital temperature and in our human ways, we've adapted, acclimatized, made necessary accommodations and changed. We're streaming our music, rather than playing CD's. We're reading blogs, twitter, and instagram instead of newspapers and magazines. We're texting and DM'ing rather than calling and talking. We're looking up top 10 lists to make our increasingly busy lives perfect while denying the beauty of imperfection. We're searching Google and self diagnosing in place of trusting an expert. We're lurking and oversharing instead of having meaningful conversations. We track our activity and counting our steps because 10,000 isn't really that many. We're compiling and collecting things to see, read, and watch later but rarely find the time to "get back to it". We're staying hyper connected, dropping in on old friends' profiles while collecting new "friends" and followers. We're being tracked, followed and targeted to ensure that we're top notch consumers. We're reacting and sharing our thoughts and beliefs, allowing and encouraging the social media algorithms to create the bubble and hive in which we're surrounded.


Perhaps these are generalizations - and there are more -  but there's no denying our lives are drastically different and have been significantly impacted and influence by digital technologies. There's an ease, a speed, a sense of independence and individuality. I have an expectation of a swift response and an impatience for information. There's an anonymity in my search (I can search anything I have ever wondered and the Internet promises an answer), my hands are busy scrolling, tapping, and pinching and I work to post happy smiles and perfect poses to match the beautiful lives of those I see online. It all seems so lovely, so idyllic, so easy, so connected. 


Here's my issue. The more connected I am, the less connected I feel. The more committed I am to my "friends" the less time I have with my family. The more time I spend looking at well positioned and lit shoes, food, and furniture, the less fulfilled and satisfied I feel with my own life. The obligation to keep my seemingly happy, purposeful and useful digital contributions up to date has  me feeling overwhelmed and the distraction of seeing everyone else's contributions has me feeling exhausted.


But, it's unrealistic to think that I can disconnect. So much of our lives are reliant on our devices and the wonderful services many innovative minds have created. I am thankful for the time saving ease that being connected has offered me, but (and in the same breath) the distraction and the time that I unintentionally invest is a managerial challenge.  My saving grace - knowledge, understanding, and wisdom also known as Digital Fluency.


Being digitally fluent begins with developing digital and technical knowledge and skill - knowing how to use a tool, device, app. Then the fluency moves into a new stage where you get to apply that knowledge and skill into understanding and meaningful connection, creation, and evaluation of online tools.  Once the understanding is in place,  wisdom is attainable. This is where knowledge and understanding to communicate and relate to others appropriately and effectively happens. 


In simpler terms - The internet is a beast - and being digitally fluent is how I tame it. 


To develop your digital fluency, check out www.emotiveweb.ca



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