The Internet: To Quit Or Not To Quit?

My mind is not functioning as I would like for it to, and it’s the Internet’s fault. Or is it?

The Internet is a virtual object which, however smart, does not think or act on its own. It’s inanimate, and therefore may not be accused for my constant distraction. The Internet does not distract me, but I’m the one distracted by it. You see what I’m getting at?

So let me say this again. My mind is not functioning as I would like for it to, and it’s my fault. Yes it is.

I am addicted to the Internet. Or, more precisely, to the bad parts of it; the ones that consume your time and sanity (i.e. social networking, which I have talked about before).

This guy, Paul Miller, spent a year offline. I had heard about his experiment from my sister, but I had not checked it out until she shared his video on Facebook. Even then, I was reluctant – afraid? – to watch it. But I finally did, after more than ten days of that bookmark staring at me defiantly.

[I highly recommend listening to him, though it’s not absolutely vital for continuing to read the article.]

Wow! Just. . . Wow!

I can’t do as he did and quit the Internet altogether (for mostly academic purposes), but his talk made me think about many things.

What am I really doing on the Internet? Let’s check a standard college day to find out!

I wake up in the morning, and check Facebook (and sometimes Twitter) from my phone as I go about washing my face and having my breakfast. Why can’t it wait? If I have some extra time, I would even log in from the laptop for better accessibility.

But let’s face it, the only “important” thing that may have happened while I was sleeping would be a private message having to do with something urgent in college, which almost never happens except when the finals are getting closer.

I sometimes log in again while on the bus because I am bored. I may “Like” and “Share” a few posts of no significant importance. I also log in when I’m on a break, just for the hell of it; because this is what I do. Sometimes I’ll try to come up with a witty Tweet about college. Why do I have to come up with a Tweet? And why does it have to be witty?

And then I go home. I eat and study – sometimes – and then get on the laptop. Even if it’s for research purposes, I still have at least one Facebook tab opened. . . or two! Why am I not 100% concentrating on my work? I am reading something for this paper due in two days, then I hear the infamous “bloop” and switch the tab without a second thought to see someone say “Hi” in a private message. I chat about the most useless mundane things while doing my work because I think I can multitask well. But we all know that more than half of my attention has left the work the moment my brain registered that “bloop”.

A question has been gnawing restlessly at my mind for a couple of days now. Why do I need to share things online? I see a picture of a cute cat and I share it. What is the point? I am listening to a song, so I post its name on Twitter with the #NowPlaying hashtag. Who needs to know? I play a game where I have to virtually cook virtual meals for virtual people who pay virtual money in the real time of my real life. What is it good for?

I am not suggesting a total withdrawal from the Internet, but rather some serious self-discipline. It’s just that there is leisure all the time now, that there is no defined leisure time anymore. I have a vague memory of early school days, when leisure was that rewarding time of doing fun things after finishing whatever it was that you had to finish. I also have vaguer memories of leisure being many things, not just one repetitive – no matter how versatile it may get – activity that consists of sitting or lying down while staring at a glowing screen for hours on end.

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