The Cost of Living in a Connected World

As I write this blog in my living room, I am multi-tasking with Twitter, chatting with friends and other educators not just in Australia, but around the world.  The instant I hit ‘publish’ this post is available globally. There are no gate keepers and there’s no wait time.

How different it is to when I was living in Japan in the pre-internet early 90s. Back then I would wait two weeks for a letter to arrive from home, and if I wrote back immediately, it would take another two weeks for my friends or family to receive my reply. It took at least a month to receive answers to letters and I would wait for them desperately, hoping that friends and family would reply quickly so that I could feel connected with my home.

C21 instant connectivity brings so many good things. I wouldn’t want to turn back the clock. But I do wonder sometimes if we’ve lost some things in the process.

We don’t write letters any more.

I still have a box full of letters I received back when I lived away from home. My friends and family would update me with all their news, no matter how mundane. They’d include the occasional photograph and I love them still because they capture a moment in time.

Some people say email has taken the place of letter writing, but I disagree. I think Facebook has. It’s where people share their news and post their photographs. However its a lot less personal than receiving a letter written just for you, in its own envelope, perhaps with a photograph enclosed. When we’d receive a letter, it was like a special gift, we’d never know what would be inside.

Relationships have become a little shallower

In some ways our relationships have become shallower. I remember years ago friends would send cards or pick up the phone for birthdays. Now, posting ‘happy birthday’ on someone’s Facebook wall is the more common practice. This is easy, but it’s far less personal. A little bit of effort goes a long way.

Privacy does not exist

Anyone, even a stranger, can publish photographs of us.  Facebook allows us to untag images, but as far as I can tell, we can’t take them down. And of course, if you’re unlucky enough to get caught on video when you fall down a sink hole, you can become the next viral video.

Yet for all that, I’m happy to be living in a connected world. I’ve found that I thrive in this environment. It brings many challenges for educators, however and that is what our latest podcast is about.

In it, I interview Dr Alec Couros about how global connectivity is changing they way we learn, and the way we teach. I also speak to Dan Haesler about his concerns with BYOD in public school systems. He wrote an interesting opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald about this issue.

For more podcasts check out my podcast page. You can also visit our website, subscribe to us on iTunes or through Feedburner.


3 thoughts on “The Cost of Living in a Connected World

  1. Jane Logan says:

    I, too, have a pile of letters from friends overseas and particularly from when my best friend moved to Lismore in the middle of high school. It was how we stayed connected. It is a lost art I’m afraid but I also love how easy it is for us to keep in touch now that she lives in SA. I can ‘see’ her any time I like and as a bonus she is a teacher and has words of ‘instant’ wisdom to offer me now I am embarking on the same career. This blog post was delivered to my inbox moments after you posted it – your words are getting me thinking as I plan for lessons tomorrow and that is a great thing. I love that I can carry on several interactions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram while thinking about how best to serve my students tomorrow. So many avenues of inspiration with a relatively low cost.

    • So true. I think the benefits outweigh the costs, that’s for sure. But I do miss the personal touch that letters used to bring. That said, I was terrible at writing them. My poor friends would have to wait a long time to hear from me.

      • Jane Logan says:

        My favourite letters were always the ones that would be written over a number of days or even weeks almost like a journal. It was like a Facebook feed in a way as there were breaks in the conversation and new events in between writing sessions. Ah the good ol’ days!

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