Should You Unplug from the tangled “WEB” we weave?

Wow!  It’s crazy how fast a spring class goes and how much you can learn when you take the time to step back and reflect.  I think that’s been my favorite part of ECI 830 – Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology.  The chance to talk about Ed Tech issues that are shaping our world with thoughtful, creative educators who are passionate about learning.

Our topic this week asked,

Have we become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug?

cell-1344985_960_720Pixabay (TheHilaryClark) – CC0

It’s June and as educators, I think we are all counting down the days until we can unplug and step back and take a breath. Not because we don’t love what we do, but because whether tech related or not we all need a chance to recharge.  It helps keep us healthy.  Perhaps the question really is do we actively make time for ourselves?  Is it about unplugging or setting aside a few minutes in a day for you to recharge? Our devices need time to recharge maybe we do to 🙂

8bcaf3662f33c28e98e1cbf38e943aaf-610x475Image from 14 End of Year Memes That Any Teacher will Understand

I reflected in my summary of learning that how we choose to use technology impacts us directly, but as I continue to reflect it always comes back to balance.  And just what is balance?  In Dre’s final blog post, he talked about hanging out in the grey areas – the space between – finding moderation.

It’s how I choose to shape my life. It’s the small choices that I make each day that over time shape the life I live.

Chip & Dan Heath in The Switch and Malcolm Gladwell in the Tipping Point both noted the significance of context and how it’s often the small things that cause a change to tip one way or another.  It’s also about how you shape the path (context)… so if you aren’t thinking about it just who is shaping your ed tech path?

It brings to mind the story of Two Wolves told from a Grandfather to a Grandson…

Two Wolves
Screenshot from First People – The Legends

There’s always multiple perspectives to each issue, the one you feed will get stronger.  I think the scary part is how often do we stop and think about which wolf we are feeding? I know that this class has taken my Ed Tech reflection to an entirely new level.  In fact, I think it’s taken my ed tech interactions to a whole new level.  When I travel with my consultant colleagues to our various schools, we have time to talk in the car.  My colleagues are very supportive (I’m fortunate to be surrounded by SLPs, Counselors, OTs and Ed Psychs on my travels.  Talk about a amazing support team, outside of family and friends;)

My point is when you start the conversation…when you choose to step in and talk about the issues, you never know how it will ripple out and who will be impacted by your conversations.

Think about the number of different people you interact with on a daily basis – students, parents, teachers, Admin, support staff, community members….At one point in my teaching career I was seeing a minimum of 130 students a day.  The conversations that you have and your willingness to share your stories and your reflections matters. And those are just your face to face interactions, consider your online connections.  Think of the ripple effect… now consider if your conversations start a word of mouth epidemic… now there’s a potential tipping point (It’s a great read – Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point).

I found this week’s spoken word videos are a form of communication that maintains my attention (it seems to be harder to do in the days of information overload).  I love podcasts and Ted Talks but the rhythm and rhyme of spoken word creates a engaging flow of ideas.  I was drawn in by “If this video doesn’t convince you to put down your phone, nothing probably will.

He raises some thought worthy questions – Do touch screens make us lose touch?  We have large friend list but are we actually friendless?

Or in this case is the question more important than the answer?  Is it that it makes you stop to think for a moment?  And if it does resonate with you, will it cause a change?

Gary Turk also uses spoken word to encourage us to “Look Up” at the world around us.  Have we lost our connection skills?  What are we missing if we don’t look up?


Looking for an interesting read?   Margie Warrell‘s article “Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely?” explained how recent studies noted that “despite being more connected than ever, more people feel more alone than ever” (2012, para 2).  In fact the people who most reported feeling alone were in fact the most “prolific social networkers” (para. 2). She also shared that we have less close friends than we did 25 years ago and social media enables us to control our vulnerability and vanity…turns out that true connections require vulnerability and that means it isn’t always pretty. (Brene Brown‘s Daring Greatly – is an excellent read on the value of vulnerability).

binary-1327493_960_720Image from Pixabay – Geralt – CC0

Warrell suggested 7 strategies for building a “REAL” social network, I’d argue they are basic life strategies: (the bracketed comments are mine).

  1. Unplug (I’d say not just from tech but make time for you to recharge)
  2. Become a Better Listener (Always a good strategy)
  3. Engage in your community (not just online)
  4. Practice Conversation (Face to face interaction is more than words)
  5. Find Like Minds (Look around – who challenges you to grow?)
  6. Reconnect with long lost friends (go for coffee)
  7. Invite People over (Yes, but first I have to clean my house;)

Just this week I was talking with my colleagues and I mentioned how we had discussed the addiction to the internet in one of our many debates.  Interestingly, the counselors both mentioned that connection is the opposite of addiction and then they shared a comment that made me pause…. so what happens when we think we are helping someone’s addiction by taking away their device… how does that help them find meaningful connections? What determines meaningful?

Sophia Breene (2015) commented that “social media is the Green Eyed Monster’s preferred stomping ground” (Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often). It conjures up quite an image for me, but is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) causing us genuine anxiety?  Don’t laugh, an Anxiety UK study noted

“if you are predisposed to anxiety is seems that the pressures form technology act as a tipping point, making people feel more insecure and more overwhelmed.  These finding suggest that some may need to re-establish control over the technology they use, rather than be controlled by it” (Anxiety UK, 2012).

Image from Pixabay – geralt – CC0

So if you’re not thinking about how tech is affecting your life, who or what is shaping your life? And do you lead two separate lives (online and offline) or just one augmented life that now encompasses the digital world. Jugenson (2011) reasoned we “live in one reality, one that is augmented by atoms and bits… an augmented self” (p.3). As far as I know, life exists in the moment we are living in. The online affects the offline which in some cases affects the online.  It’s a tangled web we weave.  And so I return to the idea that it’s the choices we make that affect the life we live.  Social media and tech are part of the world we exist in.

 It’s your choice to mix the atoms and the bits, but the more important question is do you ever stop to think about how ______ is influencing your life and is that the life you want?  It’s your life, you get to write the next chapter. 

bfed9a_8bb1e1a124c049da987669c54296750bCreated using Canva


Thank-you to my ECI 830 classmates for stepping into the arena and sharing their stories.  It’s truly made for a rich learning experience.

way-1031336_960_720Image from Pixabay – Unsplash – CC0

So will I unplug? The end of July will mark an intense 23 months on the ETAD journey, starting a new business, working full time as a Learning Consultant and being with my family.  Have you ever heard your family and friends say I’ll see you after you finish your next class?   It was my choice, I shaped my own intense path.  I’m a self admitted workaholic that attempts to find balance each day (and I don’t always win – but I attempt to fight the battle and tech is only part of it).  It’s a work in progress.  By the end of July, I will complete my ETAD program which I’ve done completely online.

My favourite parts were when I went to Saskatoon to work on a couple group projects with classmates face to face…and the two times I attended class (Yes twice I attended Saturday classes).  It wasn’t the project or the class, it was that I had the chance to meet the people face to face.  It’s the fun of going to a PD event and meeting your online classmates in person.  And with that I pause… I’m a classic introvert and as introvert face to face interactions cost a lot more energy.  I think I’m more of an offline introvert online extrovert – it’s complicated (Collier, 2011, para 2).

I did attend one Saturday Grad Seminar on research ethics.  I opted to go in person, it was the loneliest seminar.  A room filled with people that I didn’t know from a diverse variety of colleges.  Everyone else appeared to know someone.  Sure I could have tried to add myself to a table but it was a month and a half into my masters journey and my network was all online and this seminar was for every new grad student at the university.  At the end of the day I wished I had taken it online…I might have met more people that way or at least found the ones that I only knew by their online profile pic and name.

So just keep in mind as you choose to use different types of technology and instructional strategies in your classes, each choice affects each of us differently.  So variety is important as it gives us all time to recharge and step out of our comfort zones once in a while.

Without the connectivty of online classes, I wouldn’t have gone back to school at this point in my life.  Two hours away from a university makes for long drives just to get to class. I’m glad I chose to complete my masters online, but how deep you go online has human costs.  I’m very thankful for a supportive family and close friends (no one does the Master’s program alone all your friends and family do it with you;) and that goes for my online friends that have supported me too.

So will I unplug? I have to say I’m looking forward to evenings where I can choose whether or not I engage online. There will of course be the mandatory summer hermit phase when I attempt to recharge (do all teachers go through this or just me?), but in the hermit phase I’ll still be online.  Will I disconnect from tech?  Not likely.  Will I attempt to be more conscious about my choices. Yes.  Will I think twice before I fall into a pattern?  I think this class has certainly opened my eyes.   In Go Pro, Eric Worre, explained that you become most like the 5 people you spend the most time with and these people will change as you grow and learn.  So I hope I’m aware of who’s around me and that together we will find ways to connect in and step out in a dynamic balance (equilibrium).  After all if you walk into a room and you are the smartest person there, you are in the wrong room.

Unplug or not, it’s really about the way to you choose to experience your life.  Will you leave a well documented online legacy or will family and friends be the ones to share your stories around the fire for years to come?

What will your story be?


17 thoughts on “Should You Unplug from the tangled “WEB” we weave?

  1. Congratulations on your long journey with ETAD! I’m very excited for you and can’t wait to see what your future holds now that you get to “unplug” for a while and relax. (Hopefully as a workaholic you can do that) 🙂 Have a great summer Stephanie and thanks for the wonderful input and new ideas you brought to the class.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great final post, Stephanie! Thanks for all of your contributions to the class, and your insight/analysis in your blogs. I always enjoyed checking in with your posts each week! Best of luck in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really loved the last quote – especially since we are a camping family. We camp for the entire summer and we are unplugged from the internet..yes we still have tv in the camper but we feel unplugged. It truly is a choice – yes we need technology for our careers and such but we need the time to visit and enjoy each others company. Great post – have a fun and unplugged summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed reading your post Stephanie! I believe it was in your debate that the idea of childhood as a social construction was discussed and as we talk about internet addictions I wonder about the social construction of this concept. I’m curious about how we as a society have come to define an internet addiction and if this definition will evolve over time. Do you think that if our society viewed heavy internet usage as normal and healthy, there would be less occurrence of depression due to internet usage? Basically can our view of technology be impacting our physiological and psychological reactions to it? Just an idea I’m bouncing around and I’m curious to know your thoughts on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome question Ainsley! I like that you have brought in a variety of perspectives! Will we find a new normal? I think there will always be addiction it’s deeper than the thing people are addicted to. So perhaps it’s about addressing the needs of the person not just “tech” and yes I think our view is certainly impacted by our physiological and psychological reactions. They drive our life. I think it’s when we start to reflect on our reactions that we will find the true insight.


  5. I really like your thoughts on recharging. I didn’t have words to my feelings until reading your post but this is exactly how I feel at the end of June. It’s not that I feel I need to unplug (nor do I want to) but I absolutely feel that I need time to recharge this summer. I plan to recharge by following some of your “REAL” social network tips but I also am seeking some time of solitude. Thanks for putting words to my thoughts Stephanie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Erin!! So nice to know that others feel the same and that there’s value in what we all share. Teaching is intense and teachers care deeply about what they do. It makes for an amazing but exhausting journey.


  6. Excellent post Stephanie! In my post I discussed needing to reenergize so that relates very well to your comments on needing to recharge. The image of the two owls is a very accurate representation of how I feel like right now at this time of the year. I find as an educator June is always crazy busy and every teacher needs to recharge, but with taking classes in spring I feel like my battery has been running low often these last few weeks. I can also relate to how taking classes is a journey that you do not take alone. I am very thankful to my husband, family, friends, and classmates for being so supportive. Relationships that we make with people matter! Thank you very much for a semester of engaging posts! I learned a lot from reading your blog and following you on Twitter. I hope you have a fantastic summer! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes a summer recharge will be wonderful! You luck to you in your final classes! It will be nice for you to focus on just classes and hopefully taking sometime to have fun with family and friends! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Looking forward to that Emily Barker record next year. Had heard bits from Almanac pryesouilv. And yeah, John it’s always the music and never the beer. It happens so many times with me


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