Digital networks are becoming denser. People are online all the time and every day it seems like there are less places where one can really disconnect and be alone. Being able to be reached all the time regardless of one’s location might seem like an enlightened idea to some, but more and more people are discovering that to be offline has become a modern day luxury.
The governments and large companies want the entire world to be connected by wireless Internet. In order to achieve this, many experiments are being done using drones and satellites. The objective is to achieve total connectivity. Sounds good, right? But what exactly will it mean if this becomes a reality? What will be at stake?
All this connectivity has not improved communication between humans at all. It seems like the more we text each other, the more trivial our interactions become. A few years ago, many educators believed it would be a great idea to allow students to bring laptops and cellphones to class for use during lectures. However they quickly discovered that this was actually making students more distracted and keeping them from interacting and participating. Now many have prepared baskets where students have to deposit their phones and tablets. This forces them to actually pay attention to each other and learn from each other.
Research has shown that an open laptop in a classroom creates a circle of distraction around that open laptop. Not only for the owner of the gadget but also for those sitting nearby. In a recent survey 89% of people in the United States admitted that in their last social interaction they took out their phones. This means that they were not fully engaged with the people they were spending time with. Obviously this habit deteriorates conversations.
Ironically, many high-tech people actually enroll their children in schools with curricula that involves very little to absolutely no technology. The point is not really to unplug completely because there’s nothing wrong with technology. The point is that most people don’t seem to know when to take a break.
There is a growing group of people who want to unplug once in a while. It’s the elite with the most expensive smartphones who choose to disconnect and they are willing to pay a high price for this freedom from the Internet.
An app has been designed that makes the invisible digital networks visible. The App shows the cell phone towers that communicate all day every day with our smartphones and tablets. The areas with Internet service and mobile phone coverage are shown in black on the app’s world map. The white spots are the areas where there is no Internet service available as yet. People are deliberately seeking those white spots.