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The importance of staying plugged in

A recent slew of articles about unplugging from technology has generated a lot of discussion. While some may romanticize that turning off the TV and throwing away the smartphone may lead to a simpler, friendlier way of life, most people realize that technology and digital media are now an integral part of our society. To deny that fact is to not just swim against the tide, but also risk missing out on many of life’s opportunities.

This last point was brought home to me after reading an insightful post on the USA TODAY College blog from Kelly McGauley. Kelly is a senior at the University of Notre Dame and in the post she details her decision, taken a year ago this month, to deactivate her Facebook account.

In what she calls a “Facebook detox,” Kelly describes how much more time she had for herself when she wasn’t “stalking everyone I had ever known.” Those people who needed to get in touch with her called or e-mailed, and she realized it was possible to stay fully informed on the things she cared about without constantly checking her News Feed.

Although Kelly occasionally feels the pull to return to Facebook, she has resisted – until now. But the reason she is considering going back to social networking is different from what you might think. Kelly is starting to believe that the absence of a Facebook account might actually count against her in the search for future employment.

It’s true that an increasing number of employers are looking to Facebook for additional information on prospective recruits. But until now it was generally assumed that they were looking for negative material – something that might indicate immaturity or poor judgment – not whether that person actually had a Facebook account in the first place.

But Kelly’s concerns make sense. In less than a couple of years, we have gone from a situation where a healthy Facebook account was considered a sign of having too much time on your hands to the point where the absence of an account is now regarded as unusual behavior. For students looking to enter certain industries – Kelly mentions publishing – a healthy online network is almost a must.

It’s another indication that however much we may want to unplug from technology, it’s becoming less realistic as each day passes. We already live much of our lives online and that trend is sure to continue. To pretend otherwise will put ourselves – and our kids – at a distinct disadvantage.

Is a Facebook account or a strong online presence becoming a must? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comment by Ellen Lebowitz, posted 2/1/2011, 2:58 PM:

I would imagine it depends on what you're doing online - what you're plugging into, so to speak. There's a lot of information online which is available only online. Newspapers considered to be national (NY & LA Times, as examples) update their online editions the night before the print versions are available. This is a pretty good reason to be plugged in. Thank you.
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