internet schminternet

I love the internet, but I’m pretty sure it’s bad for me.

You see, for every enlightened person who can manipulate the internet to make their life AMAZING, there is a person who gets sucked IN and can’t ever get out and I think that person is me.

It’s not just the TimeSuck factor, though. I’m perfectly fine with using the Internet to fill my recreation time. Even though it’s much easier for me to lose hours of my life surfing the web than it is to watch TV, I think I can limit myself with discipline,if things are getting out of hand.

No, what I worry about is this:

Let’s say I have a whim. Any whim. I would like to know which YA books are popular, for example, and I wonder how many of those books I have read.

So if I had no internet access, I would have to think about who I knew who might have this information. I could contact a librarian, or poll my friends, or maybe pick up a list of award winners from the library or a bookstore. If it was that important to me, I might do one of those things, but I probably couldn’t do it immediately.  I would be forced to negotiate whether or not this was REALLY important to me, and where it might fit in my schedule. If I decide to take one of these actions, I would also strengthen my relationships with the people I asked, or had some kind of visceral experience looking at books in a library, or actually pick up one of those books, or whatever.

If I do have internet access, I stop what I’m doing and run to Google. I lose track of whatever work I was doing, I find any number of lists that are published by people I do not know and will never talk to. I print them off, and then I get out my highlighter and go through the list, indulging my anal retentive side, taking pleasure in marking off things on my mental checklist. “Check off which popular YA books I’ve read. Done. (Until I come across ANOTHER list of popular YA books, in which case, good thing I have 7 different colors of highlighter!)”

At this point, I’ve lost sight of whatever I was doing, of course, but that’s also not the point. I still believe that my brain is smarter than my Internet habits. I could, with focus and discipline, curb the distractions long enough to get something done.

What really bothers me is this: in that moment when I decide that indulging in whatever Whim it is that is Whimsying me, my basic, reptilian desire for the pleasures of instant gratification is satisfied, and my ego is satisfied, too. “Oh, look, I found what I was looking for! That’s great, I’m great, and so is the Internet!

And whatever self-centered, ego-massaging, personal maintenance task that struck my fancy? That process is glorified as well. I print off list after list of books and highlight line after line, thinking this is somehow better than the Life Without Internet option, or perhaps… oh… reading one of those popular books and judging for myself?

Technology is great. Maybe too great for me.

It’s too easy, Internet. You just don’t give me a chance to think.


One Comment to “internet schminternet”

  1. Have you thought about making a list for all these random inquiries rather than doing an immediate search? You can capture what you wanted to ask without disrupting what you are doing.

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