The last year and a half have been strange; we went from living out in the world to living in our homes and connecting through screens. While this has made life easier in some ways, it has taken away from other aspects that used to be more natural.
Real-life experiences require us to use our senses and force us to engage with the world. They need quick thinking and dynamic interactions. They also allow us to connect what we know with actions, at the same time we don’t know things for sure until we experience them ourselves.
Experiencing life in the real world instead of on a computer requires a different set of skills and is much more exhilarating. At the same time, the more time we spend online, the more disconnected from the real world we become; this is a problem because we forget about the value of real experience.
Keep reading as we will discuss why it is essential to prioritize real-life experiences.
The importance of real-life experience
Like me, you might have spent the last 18 months or so mostly at home, only going out for the essentials. At the same time, many of the things that used to happen in person have transitioned to online. What used to be ordinary is now the exception rather than the rule.
The move away from real-life experience to online happened relatively quickly and easily. While it has made life easier for many people, myself included, it has taken away some essentials. While going to the office every day used to be a pain, there was something more human about being around co-workers all day and talking in person.
Another thing about going to the office was that if I wanted a coffee, I’d go out into the world and interact with strangers. And even though those experiences weren’t all that special, something about them felt human. While we might have different views on how much time we like to spend with real people, it is a normal and natural thing to do for social animals like us.
Recently, we visited some friends for dinner; the experience felt strange cause it had been so long since we’d interacted with real people. It’s weird that something that used to be expected now feels strange and will probably take a little getting used to.
But even though these previously easy acts now seem more complicated, that doesn’t mean we should avoid them; in fact, it would be better if we embraced them.
While human contact is essential, doing things in general in the real world is a much more meaningful experience. Think of all the things we know for certain or all the practical knowledge we have; I’m not talking about what we learnt at school here. But our useful knowledge about how things work comes from experiences in the world rather than what we’ve seen online.
Stepping back a little, I remember going to college and learning about how to make websites. After going through my program, I thought I was good at the work, but it took getting a job in the real world to realize my skill level. We can learn from books on the computer with anything in life, but it takes doing it for real to improve and discover where our skill level truly is.
We live online, but we need real-life experience.
Working remotely has always been possible in IT, but office politics expected us to be in the office. While it was hard to convince people that things could be different, it was forced upon us due to the health crisis.
This means spending more time on the computer, whereas I could have stepped away in the past if we were in the office.
Even with friends, we might not have met all that often when we did it in real life, but there was something special about us all coming together and sharing a meal. Now we might have a video chat on the weekend, which is more convenient, but it isn’t the same. I’d suspect, however, that once things go back to normal, we might still stick with these online meetings, even though they aren’t so natural.
I’m not a massive fan of social media, so I avoid it, but I know that many people spend a lot of time online that way. While it might be convenient, we hear a lot in the news these days about the adverse emotional effects of social media on kids. Undoubtedly, kids can get bullied or mistreated in real life, but online is a different beast that is more difficult to control.
While it has been easy to slip into this predominately online world, we need to consider the value of real-life experiences and how differently they make us feel.
While it might take more effort to see people in real life, real life is more experiential than when we do things online.
We might not always realize or appreciate this distinction, but it’s essential to keep it in mind.
For myself, I’m going to challenge myself to get out more and interact with real people. I do this because I prefer to go to a store and interact with people when buying things rather than doing it online. This isn’t always possible, but when it is, the benefits of having a person you can talk to and ask questions far outweigh the burden of driving out to a store.
While we can do everything online, that doesn’t mean we should; instead, we should challenge ourselves to have as many real-world experiences as possible. Not only do we get more out of those experiences, but we learn more as well.
Real-life experience is the best type of learning.
All our most significant learning experiences happen in the real world with real activities. It is easy to pick up a book or watch a video online and learn how to do something, but the reality is that you don’t know that thing until you experience it yourself with your own hands.
Real-world experience asks us to use our senses, body and attention to do the tasks before us. While that can be a little overwhelming at times, it helps us confirm our abilities and builds our muscle memory, making the task easier next time.
At the same time, what we learn at school is always in a bubble; things are always more complicated when it comes to real life.
Even the best models are always missing something, be it human dynamics, surprises or stress. However, when we do something for real, we are forced to deal with those factors head-on, and as a result, do a better job of learning how to deal with them when they come up ordinarily.
Learning online has changed how education works; it has increased accessibility and improved opportunities for those who want them. But at the same time, the real-life interactions have been removed, which is something we have to work to include in our learnings. It might have been a natural part in the past, but we now need to put a little extra effort into including it now.
Real-life experience is vital because it allows us to learn quickly and hands-on. It also forces us to deal with other factors that can often be missed in a textbook or online.
If we are looking at something like a job, the only way to learn is through experience.
If you want to live a meaningful life, you need to have goals you are working towards, and any plan requires some skill to achieve. We need to focus our learning on real-life experiences to speed up the process, even if online is more convenient.
To get better at anything, you need to do it in real life, so focus as much of your energy on the real world as you can, and you will see the greatest return on your efforts.