Today in the studies that are going around people make a distinction between types of Internet users. Not everyone gets the same benefit, the same happiness from their Internet use and the key here is intent. How we approach the Internet and what we intend for the time we invest in the virtual world will determine what we get back from it.
It is no secret that the way we use our consciousness dictates the kind of life we make for ourselves and that applies to our online life as it does off the net in regular life. Some used to say real life as if virtual life is unreal but that is not the case as anyone who makes their living online knows.
A May 12 report by British researchers from the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of IT (known as BCS) have found a link between Internet access and wellbeing. Overall, the study found that access to the Internet leads people to feel better about their lives. “Put simply, people with IT access are more satisfied with life even when taking account of income,” said Dr. Michael Willmott. “Our analysis suggests that IT has an enabling and empowering role in people’s lives by increasing their sense of freedom and control, which has a positive impact on wellbeing or happiness.”
A central aspect of the Internet that is amplifying our consciousness is the ability it gives us to travel around the globe and touch people. We can create and communicate with a network of close friends or colleagues who we get closer to the more we communicate with them. There is a mind-expanding and heart-expanding effect as we begin to identify with these other beings that simultaneously exist and communicate with us.
We reach out with the speed of consciousness, which is even faster than the speed of light, faster than the fastest internet connection.
Interesting when Francis Cairncross wrote about the Death of Distance. Though he was fascinated about the Internet’s economic force shaping influence on the future he could not imagine its potential to actually amplify certain aspects of human consciousness. What is intuition anyway but the perceptual ability to cut through both time and space – the perceptual capacity and ability to jump through complex labyrinths of intellectual and conceptual sophistry to simple truth?
The Internet’s distance killing characteristics actually amplify, reinforce and train our inherent human perceptual ability to intuit reality. How? It does this in two ways. Without the distraction of visual, auditory, and general physical cues, we are being forced to stretch other more penetrating potentials of perception. This runs contrary to the entire lockstep thinking about Internet use and its future. Almost all are complaining about the lack of visual cues like that was some kind of devastating handicap and that face-to-face communication was the end all and be all.
As technology progresses more people surround themselves with more than one screen and more than one highway to the expanding digital universe. A typical modern person will listen to a few songs on their iPod, then tap out quick e-mails on their iPhone in between working on their laptop or using their new iPad.
Through the decades television has paved the way by speeding up the amount of images and stimulation per period of time, which has decreased people’s patience and comfort with empty space, quiet time, meditation and relaxation.
The New York Times said, “Everywhere people find themselves they are using phones and other electronic devices to get work done as well as a liable antidote to boredom. Cell phones, which in the last few years have become full-fledged computers with high-speed Internet connections, let people relieve the tedium of exercising, the grocery store line, stoplights or lulls in the dinner conversation. The technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.”
Sarah Churchwell, academic and critic, says that the Internet is changing our habits of thinking, which isn’t the same thing as changing our brains. The brain is like any other muscle – if you don’t stretch it, it gets both stiff and flabby. But if you exercise it regularly, and cross-train, your brain will be flexible, quick, strong and versatile. In one sense, the internet is analogous to a weight-training machine for the brain.
Colin Blakemore, neurobiologist at Oxford University says, “It’s curious that some of the most vociferous critics of the Internet – those who predict that it will produce generations of couch potatoes with minds of mush – are the very sorts of people who are benefiting most from this wonderful, liberating, organic extension of the human mind. They are academics, scientists, scholars and writers who fear that the extraordinary technology they use every day is a danger to the unsophisticated.
Ian Goodyer, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, says, “The Internet is definitely affecting the way I think, for the worse. I fantasize about an entire month away from it, with no news headlines, email inboxes, idle googling or instant messages, the same way retirees contemplate a month in the Bahamas. The Internet means that we can never get away from ourselves, our temptations and obsessions. There’s something depressing about knowing I can literally and metaphorically log on to the same homepage wherever I am in the world.”
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At the Speed of Consciousness
Everything that exists, exists in space. All bodies are joined by space. For humans the Internet offers a new space that can connect us like normal space connects all things. This is a new space in which we can live, socialize, do business, love, communicate, build communities, towns and cities, learn, and even get married. But beyond all this lies a new potential, something unseen, unknown even to the most savvy Internet users. Cyber space can be used as a powerful instrument for healing, for spiritual growth, for mental and emotional expansion. With the Internet, when used properly, we can actually expand our awareness as it amplifies certain aspects of our consciousness.
In our consciousness we can be wherever we want.
In fact you can only be where your heart is. We can be sitting at a movie but when our heart is not there, “we,” our true being is really not there. This hints at our capacity to really travel through time and space and be with people who are not present to our senses. This is all amplified by constant Internet use. We all have an inner consciousness that is independent of the physical location of the body. We can develop this self now more than ever before and in reality we are needing that self. As John Suler, an Internet psychologist stated, “If intuitive perception exists then the difference between in-person and virtual social contact becomes rather insignificant.”
The basis of true thinking is intuition. – Albert Einstein
Researchers from the Trajectory Partnership, a U.K.-based think tank that carried out the study on behalf of the BCS, analyzed data from 35,000 people across the globe who took part in the World Values Survey from 2005 to 2007. Looking at a number of social and economic factors that determine happiness – including gender, age, income and education – the survey showed that Internet use empowers people by increasing their feelings of security, personal freedom and influence.
Four in five people around the world reckon internet access is their fundamental right, according to a poll conducted for BBC World Service. Eighty-seven percent of those who used the Internet felt that Internet access should be “the fundamental right of all people.” GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “Despite worries about privacy and fraud, people around the world see access to the internet as their fundamental right. They think the web is a force for good, and most don’t want governments to regulate it.”
The web is our window to the world. With it we have instant access to the largest library in the solar system. It is just a wonderful feeling to be able to get any information any time without even having to leave our own homes.
Critical thinking skills have always been important to the process of searching for and using information from media such as books, journal articles, radio broadcasts, television reports, and so forth. With the advent of the Internet and World Wide Web, these skills have become even more crucial. One needs an innate ability (intuition combined with astute intellect) to be able to discern truth and valuable information from much of the trash that is put up on the net. The garbage on the net though in no way undermines the backbone of valuable information on the Internet.
Unplugging the Digital Connection
March 20 has been declared the National Day of Unplugging. Dan Rollman and others are trying to get people to observe a Sabbath Manifesto, an interesting initiative with ten core principles meant to help people slow down their lives once a week. The first principle is to “Avoid Technology.” (Other principles: Connect with loved ones; nurture your health; get outside; avoid commerce; light candles; drink wine; eat bread; find silence; give back.)