SHERIDAN — Google processes more than 40,000 search queries every single second. That is 3.5 billion searches per day, according to Internet Live Stats, a real-time statistics calculator. Facebook has over 2 billion users, nearly one-third of the world’s 7.5 billion population, and nearly 5 billion videos are viewed on YouTube daily.
The numbers are a staggering representation of how instantly and how often people look for information, entertainment and connection online.
“I love having easy access to information, but I don’t like the way the Internet monopolizes my idle time — I can’t stand in line without taking out my phone,” artist Sonja Caywood said in an email to The Press.
Other community members — a pastor, a coach, a theater director and a communications specialist — agree that such connection carries positives and negatives that must be balanced.
The Sheridan Press asked five community members to examine their lives before and after internet searches and social media and consider who they would turn to for information, entertainment and a good conversation if they didn’t have Google, YouTube or Facebook.
What do you think? Who would you turn to for advice, laughter and a good face-to-face if you didn’t have Google, YouTube or Facebook?
• Adam Bunker: Communications specialist at Confluence Collaborative
• Erin Butler: Executive director of the WYO Theater
• Sonja Caywood: Fine artist based in Dayton
• Tony Forman: Pastor of Cornerstone Church
• Don Julian: Sheridan High School football coach
If you didn’t have Google, who would you turn to for information and advice? Why? Do you already seek their input? Do you wish you sought it more often? (Please only name your spouse/significant other for one of these questions.)
• Bunker: Hands down I would (and do) go to my dad and mom for advice. They both have tremendous experience of their own in the world, and have never been shy about seeking out resources — so if they don’t have an answer they probably have some recommendations on who to go to for more information.
• Caywood: I’d turn to Alice Fuller for information and advice on painting, and most things, really. I’d ask her because she’s the age my grandparents would be, grew up in the same area, and is a resource of life experience and wonderful stories. I respect her and love her energy and free spirit.
• Forman: Even with Google, I find it extremely important to seek advice and input from my wife, as well as co-workers. Google can never replace visiting with other pastors, mentors, the “church” community and the community at large.
• Julian: It has tended to be people that I believed were high character, respected folks. Here in Sheridan it has been folks like Gary Benson, Terry Burgess, Casey Osborn, Homer Scott, and Gary Kopsa among others. I am also not above asking for advice and input from younger people who I feel have a great understanding of the topic at hand, such as our football staff. Finally, I consult with my wife to try to get a mother’s perspective on the situation.
If you didn’t have YouTube, who would you turn to for entertainment and laughter? Why? Do you already enjoy life together? Do you wish you got together more often?
• Bunker: My significant other and I would have people over for game nights and such more often. We’re both fairly introverted and are therefore often content to hang out together at home streaming videos and sharing funny internet things with one another, but without that I think we would push out of our introversion a bit more to turn to others for entertainment.
• Butler: I have a few good friends I would turn to for this purpose and yes, we DO enjoy life together! One friend in particular does not live close so yes, I very much wish we got together more often though the internet, social media and texting help us keep in touch.
• Forman: Most likely my friend Nick Angeloff. We have known one another for many years. We have a very similar sense of humor and taste in music.
If you didn’t have Facebook, who would you turn to for good conversation over a cup of coffee? Why? Do you already meet with them face-to-face? Do you wish you did so more often?
• Bunker: Even with Facebook my go-to folks for this kind of conversation are my business partners. We have similar core value sets (good thing to have with business partners) while also having different life experiences that make for very intriguing conversations about the office.
• Caywood: I’ve slackened my Facebook posts, time spent on the Internet — and even time in my art studio — in an effort to spend more quality time with family, friends and my flowerbeds. I realized that a half hour focused on one friend or family member does more for my heart than scrolling through 1,000 acquaintances’ woes and triumphs.
• Forman: Definitely Gary Kopsa. We share the same view of ministry and people. I regard him as a mentor and friend.
In general, what are your thoughts on humanity’s interactions with people versus their interaction with the internet and social media? How do you feel about your personal balance of interactions with people and with the internet and social media?
• Bunker: Trying to compare pre-internet generations and post-internet generations is an apples-to-oranges comparison, and detracts from the lessons we can learn from each. The people growing up with today’s technology are pioneering a new realm for humanity, but our parents and grandparents still have tremendous lessons to teach — particularly in the realm of personal interactions.
…Today, the internet makes it incredibly easy to find people who agree with you and already support your point of view — which across the board has created a polarized and entrenched society.
• Butler: I think it’s easy for people to forget that there happens to be a human being on the other side of the comment.
… Personally, it’s very easy for me to turn to social media or the internet in times of frustration or sorrow, however, the more powerful impact is true person-to-person contact whether it be sharing a meal, sharing a beverage, sharing a conversation, sharing a performance etc. The “sharing” of the thing is the key.
• Caywood: I often joke that I’m a better Facebook friend than a real friend. As an introvert, I enjoy the “hands off” aspect of socializing via the Internet; I can do it at odd hours, and I don’t have to look nice or be nervous. I can think of what I’ll say before I type it and hit “enter.” Social media makes us less authentic; we can tailor our posts to make it appear like we live a perfect life or a life filled with strife. It’s an edited persona.
• Forman: I am personally concerned for our culture, particularly the coming generations. It seems that there is a growing addictive influence on society as a whole regarding social media. The anxiety of acceptance or rejection regarding Facebook posts. The strong desire for constant stimulation through gaming and the destructive effects of online pornography on relationships appear to be on the rise. It cannot help but to have an eroding influence on our culture.
• Julian: As I work with youth, I am concerned about how uncomfortable they are with face to face communication. They have a hard time maintaining eye contact and truly advocating for themselves and the issues they have verbally. Their whole world revolves around on-line communication, and I believe they struggle truly talking with others, especially non peers.
… As for me, I like to feel like social media has helped me be more efficient, but the reality is that I think I am more scattered, more impatient, and with less ability to focus on one thing due to all the social media interruptions. The best part of my day is up on the practice field where for 2.5 hours I am without my phone and totally focused on our team.