Sunday, January 17, 2010

Online, Offline, And Balancing Both Worlds

In 2010 , more people will go online for the first time than ever before. This fact is pretty easy to see by anyone that has just a little knowledge of technology trends. However, another fact that is not so easily seen, is that more people will choose to go offline in 2010 than ever before. People are starting to disconnect in varying durations of time. From days or weeks to months and even years on end. Today, we'll look at the pros and cons of each, and then we'll see if there's room in our lives for the best of both worlds.

Always Online
Many of us should know what this is like. Being always connected and updated on the latest whatever. Zoned into the web and the real world tuned out. With the exponential growth potential of mobile technology beginning to develop around the world, the sheer number of people going online and staying online is astonishing. Third world countries are utilizing the lower cost of mobile devices and wireless networks to establish themselves in this global extravaganza. The downsides are numerous however. Network congestion and wireless signal interference are problems that loom in the near future and will soon need to be addressed.

Going Offline
There seems to be a new trend forming where people who once would spend more time online than not are choosing to disconnect and go offline for (seemingly) enormous lengths of time. We're talking days, even weeks here people! This is one of those movements that will allow people to reunite with reality and change the web landscape in a big way. Creativity of people comes mostly from stepping away from what is there to see something that is not yet there. Many great new ideas will grow from this movement and will develop valuable relations between large groups and companies. It's one of those concepts that's hard to grasp by many still, and that may be the biggest disadvantage, but it also may result in a rift of information and resources that always-onliners may miss out on. The offline movement is still in the early stages, so only time will tell how it all plays out.

A Good Balance
I firmly believe a good balance of online and offline time is the most healthy choice for a person. Just like too much water will make you drown and not enough will kill you too, not enough time connected can leave one lost in the world, while too much time online will leave one lost to the the world. I'm not going to tell anyone what a good balance of online/offline time or percentage is. That's something you'll have to figure out on your own. It seems to me a constant tightrope act in my life to keep online time and offline time balanced, and I'm constantly discovering new ways to get the most out of both times. The easiest way for me to keep balanced is to keep focused on one side at a time and not go back and forth between the two too much. Do online activities online and do offline activities offline. Try not to mix the two. Social networks are examples that encourage you to mix the two, and that's where many issues arise. Stay conscious about which world you are in, for a time will come that will make it near impossible to distinguish between the two.


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