- 1. We were meant to be.
- Even More of My Life as I Know It
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- The Ascent
Socrates, considered as one of the founders of Western philosophy, was once named the wisest man on earth by the Oracle of Delphi. When Socrates heard that the oracle had made such a comment, he believed that the statement was wrong. How can the smartest man on earth know nothing? I heard this paradoxical wisdom for the first time from my school teacher when I was 14 or You can learn from everything and everyone.
What you will find below is a list of the most important things I learned from other people and books. Some of the lessons took me a long time to learn—but if I had to learn these things all by myself, it would take me a lot longer. Here are 25 of those reminders that others taught me. You might know a lot. But like Socrates, you and I know nothing at all. So we have to keep learning. Sign in. Now, I know a lot about many things that are unimportant. More to your point: When I got my first email account in the early s, one of the first things I did was locate a pen pal from Spain I had exchanges with when I was a child.
We started emailing every day and then instant messaging. We became really great friends over the digital space.
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Eventually we met in person. I will see her in March. That was the really good side of the internet. However, once social media started and you could find all your long-lost friends and acquaintances on Facebook or Twitter, things changed. We figure out what to post based on what will get likes and retweets.
I think back to the s, when my tween self had pen pals all over the world. I would sit down and carefully think about what to write on those expensive airmail sheets. It might have been communicating with people far away, but it was a really different kind of communication. Failing on YouTube makes you a social pariah.
Failing with your friends makes for a good story to laugh about later. I am a genealogist and I use it to help unite families. But the other side is that it is too easy not to selectively help but to be drawn into an artificial world. Facebook and Twitter are addictive, and both aim at showing you only what they think you want to see since that is how they make money.
A professor of political science at a major U. I am more connected to the social media outrage of the day, less in tune with art and culture. I am bombarded with news through a number of apps that are constantly sending notifications. As a consequence, I find myself worried about many political issues simultaneously and often distractingly.
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A professor of computer science at a major U. The average time has gone up from 8 hours to 11 without improvement of their final grade range.
1. We were meant to be.
They do not get better grades while they spend more time. I played with my friends for hours and my parents were fine I think. Today parents have the technology to track their kids and contact their kids any time they want, which gives kids today a much shorter leash to be kids.
I was definitely operating on information overload; there was way too much content for me to view, let alone synthesize. It is all over the place. A few years ago I loved to read. I would finish a book in one or two days and start the next one immediately. I preferred reading books over watching movies. But as I moved into the digital age, as my parents gave me a cellphone and then a computer, I spent less and less time reading books and more time online or on my phone. I am now used to spending my time getting instant answers and skim-reading online, not spending much time on any one thing.
I can search a keyword with a few clicks of the keyboard. While digital life is good, the downsides are quite troublesome.
Even More of My Life as I Know It
My brother spent a period between graduating school and obtaining a job idly watching screens and interacting only via them. He spent all day and into the night constantly immersed in this. The TV was always on in the background while he played intense online video games on his laptop, while also continuously texting or messaging others about the game. Technology became his life.
It was difficult to separate him from his virtual world and to interest him in physical human interaction. He became grumpy, began sleeping less and less, and stopped dedicating time to his own physical needs. Although it was a scary time, he was later able to pull himself out of it and eventually reconnect with the real world. While he was lucky to be able to quit, some are not able to do so. Read books.
In print. Read magazines, read newspapers — a range of them, from your state and city and even other nations. And read them deeply.
Too few of us do that. Stop everything. First off, read. Set time aside to really do that and do nothing but that in that period. It helps you think and slow down. This is schoolyard but still true: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
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Be there. Wherever you are. How many photos from your camera roll memorializing your life do you actually look back on? Look up. There is always something sticky there. A professor based at a top university in the U. Less time for family.
Being a watchdog of democracy is a very exciting and rewarding sensation. Today the job I liked and practiced all of my life still exists only in a few ivory towers that became global The New York Times, the BBC, some of the public service broadcasters financed by states …. If this is the future of the journalistic career, I will encourage my children not to get into it.
And, of course, my intentions are good. But engineered addiction is more powerful than cautionary discourse, and social pressures readily tug on heartstrings. I remember working as a professor before email and after email.
The insidious belief that we should always be available, always ready to answer questions for anyone about anything, is one of the most highly detrimental changes that I have seen.