The Internet: How Much Time is Too Much Time?


This is kind of an old argument…

If someone told you that you spend too much time on the internet, how would you respond?

Maybe I would say that don’t spend that much time on the actual internet, but I do spend a lot of time using various social network services or websites. I think I wouldn’t say I spend too much time, but I would admit that I am an avid addict of the world of knowing someone else’s business whilst trying to make my own business look, well, fascinating.

Let’s take a little look at where I am:

– Blog (you’re reading it)
Tumblr – reading and posting instagram photographs.
Twitter – reading and sharing, as well as commenting on, well, everything…
Flickr – photographs!
– Instagram – more photographs
Youtube – for videos and slideshows I make…
Linkedin – networking…for work…and looking important…
– Facebook – believe it or not, mostly just for keeping in touch with friends and family – after the big ordeal of getting off Facebook a few years ago, I just said ‘fuck it’ and signed back on. +1 kind of influenced this, but also the fact that I missed what little communication I had with many people I knew. Sad, I know.
– Meetup – Mostly for IAK stuff but can be useful for other events.
– Pinterest – yeah, apparently it’s a bit girly and I’m not sure why I joined it, but we’ll see what happens.

There might be one or two that I’m forgetting (I deleted bebo and haven’t looked at Myspace for at least a year, but if it gets you wet you can read some really old blog posts of mine there)

And I’ve profiles on a whole host of other websites which I comment on or receive daily or weekly updates on in my email, and I read these emails most of the time (I don’t necessarily always click the links).

So I make myself busy on the internet.

I thought that I’d ask this question after a comment from my old man on my last post, ‘Letter From Korea, August 2012’, telling me that if I turned off some of my internet distractions I’d probably get more work done. He’s probably right, but then again he’s probably wrong. You see despite the fact that I have a lot of activity on the internet, it’s worth asking how much of a distraction it really is, because I honestly think that I would be distracted even if I was chained up in a fucking desert.

Despite this notion, there’s been a fair amount of discussion on the viability and destructive nature that social media has on traditional media and the way we find information. I would be of the opinion that if you’re going to sit back and complain about something it will have overtaken you by the time you think you have people listening to you – and perhaps this is how I feel about Facebook. Perhaps.

How much time does it take to read a facebook status update? Or a tweet? And how long does it take to write one? While that’s a short amount of time, if it’s a link to a news or blog post (depending on the site) that is where the benefit comes from. It’s about content. That’s what keeps pulling me back to the internet. You see, when I started using twitter it was, I think, to get a regular feed of different links from whoever was tweeting them out. I’ve never been that interested in reading the links of individual people and their mannerisms (there are exceptions of course). I like to think now that I know more about stuff I never knew before. Things like this make finding this information out a lot easier, and they benefit the suppliers too because it’s easier to be found.

There are more questions that I should ask. I hope that I can answer them. Here I go.

Is it worthwhile being on a social network? Well, yes and no. It all depends on what you’re trying to do and what you’re looking to achieve from it. A lot of people initially start out using these because everyone else is there, and this is especially the case with facebook. Other people start out using them because they are looking to use some of the services for publicity or sharing, such as photographs on flickr. Twitter was destined to be a constant stream of neurotic teenagers tweeting in text language until journalists and the media got onto it, making it more valuable. A bit like much in life, it all boils down to finding out what’s the point of using these things? Knowing your, options, alternatives, and goals can probably help you to know this answer easily. There are many of us who don’t actually need to use social networks or the media.

I’ll give you an example of what social networks can do for someone who is living and working in a place like Korea. They definitely operate as a network where you can connect and hear about events, new restaurants, and news (I suppose), where before you would have had to visit different websites individually, now you can source all your information on one. In Korea, Facebook is definitely the most useful website to use as practically any event that takes place is publicised through facebook, at least in the foreign community here. When I initially deleted my facebook account I found that I had automatically lost my source for event postings and get-togethers (and also it has to be said, a pile of useless and irrelevant stuff). Could I have survived without much of it? Yes. Did I? Yes. Will I continue you to? Surely.

But still I am here and there (and some would say everywhere) online. I have to say that I enjoy it. I do spend quite a lot of time online, perhaps an hour or two every day, but to be honest I know when I spend too much time on social networks – it actually feels like it has been too much time. Sometimes I get a headache, but usually I know when I’ve had enough. I could blame it for distracting me from getting work done, but as I read from an interview from Margaret Atwood recently, essentially it doesn’t matter who are and what you do, you will find distractions when work has to be done and you don’t have a boss beating down on you.

Of course there has been an increase in arguments about why the internet is tearing apart social structures and prescribed practices (esepecially the traditional media), but at the end of the day the internet and all its follicles are here to stay. There are obvious conflicts with common sense, especially when you see how much money is spent on developing internet products and websites. I reckon people who complain about that kind of stuff are just jealous they couldn’t have thought of something as simple.

The amount of benefits can struggle to counter the obvious ridiculous and negative aspects. But like any game it all depends how you play it. I’d like to think that I can utilise it and not turn it into an enemy, and that I can learn to use it to my own benefit – whatever that may be.

So in answer to my initial question, do I spend too much time on the internet. Yes I do. What can you do?

 

After posting this I found this article in my #twitter stream. Very worthwhile read and one the more balanced and well supported arguments. As I said though, what can you do?

Amused but not dead, yet.


Neil Postman is famous in certain circles for his bites at modern culture, and in particular the media. Possibly his most famous book is Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. I recently finished this book after it was recommended to me by a friend, but before this I was kept reminded of a certain need to read it:  

  

Orwell -v- Huxley as explained by Neil Postman

 

Postman, who died in 2003, published Amusing Ourselves to Death in 1985 the same year the Ronald Regan, a former actor becomes the president of the United States (remember Doc Brown in Back to the Future “Then tell me, “Future Boy”, who’s President in the United States in 1985? … Ronald Reagan? The actor? Then who’s VICE-President? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady!”), and celebrity power pulled together in its greatest show of force to raise funds for starving famine victims in Ethiopia in the famous event, LiveAid. Yes, these were the eighties and a time I remember mostly picking my nose and running around in fields for most of the summer, that is of course after I learned how to walk.

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Today is the end of days…ish


New logo
New logo for everyone’s favourite ‘book’

Today, after much too-ing and fro-ing over the past month or so, I eventually deleted my facebook account. It was one of those things that I had to do; deactivating or just ignoring it just wouldn’t be enough, I had to remove myself from the entire world of it.

Being, as it is well known, very addictive and time consuming, for me I couldn’t just leave it there to just pop in  on occasionally. I tried doing that for a while but with any sign of idleness where I felt I was restraining myself to avoid it, I’d end up just drifting back to see what could be a less pointless way to spend my time. Being big-eyed and full of dreams, I’ve great plans for taking over the world, and facebook was just one of those things that got in my way of doing what I wanted to do.

Of course it’s not facebook’s actual fault, it really didn’t do anything wrong or do anything it said it wouldn’t. For many the privacy issue is a big deal (and even by deleting your account you can’t be guaranteed that your information is deleted), but perhaps the voyeurism on my part just messes with my head a little bit and I get the idea that I am in touch with people when all that I am in touch with is what they post on facebook and not what is actually happening in their lives, or in fact in anyone’s lives.

These faults that I have with facebook are no ones faults but my own. For example, I’ve spent so much time poking my noses in peoples pages that for some reason I feel that I know what is going on in a persons life. But there’s no  reason to even expect me understand anything about what people are doing with themselves just by a few likes and dislikes, what job they have and whether or not they make witty status updates. There are so many people who use facebook, and the three hundred or so who were my ‘friends’ are not even all avid users. In fact, the people who regularly open their page and actively use the website has grown smaller and smaller, leaving me to sit around waiting for them to open up and use the whole thing like I do as a gateway into my brain, or something pointless and irritating that has made me sit refreshing my home page for hours on end in the summer, winter,  spring and autumn.

I suppose I’m leaving myself open to be found, instead of waving my arms wildly in the air shouting, ‘I’m here, I’m here, look how great I am and all the great stuff I do and follow and, oh how many witticisms an hour I can come out with’ etc. Or something to that effect.

I suppose, I will either isolate myself or I will just stop caring. I suppose I am everywhere else these days and am easier to be found than before, and probably this has something to do with facebook. But here I have a genuine problem with facebook, and not one that toys with my vanity, among other things. I have problems with relying on one corporate website for sharing and spreading the world’s news, photos, friendships, events, loves, in fact practically everything is touched and ruled by facebook.

As a further to this, I went for a few drinks recently and not for the first time, the conversation turned to a topic related to the infamous book of faces. Somebody said something who said another thing to another person and then they all got pissed off because the written word isn’t as understandable as the spoken word because it lacks important tones such as sarcasm, humour, anger, desperation. This happens all the time, have a look at a website like lamebook.com if you want to see the problems with this device.

So, like a bitchy neighbour, not only does it know everything about us, it also acts as the one who helps to spread malicious rumours and excuses, while it chuckles as everyone comes running for more and more.

But aside from this little relevant rant, short of giving a psychological and sociological investigation of the goods and bads of facebook, most of my problems are my own, and I’ll solve them myself.

As I said in an email earlier today that I sent out to the majority of my facebook friends, at least the people I think who deserved a hello/goodbye message (because let’s be honest most people have many friends who just are facebook ‘friends’ and we don’t really care about the other people, and I mean what I say, I don’t really care about a lot of everything), “I have finally decided to delete my facebook account, and I’m going through with it. For more reasons that one, I’ve decided that I can do more with less. If you want to keep in touch, you can email me, or I’m also open to other traditional methods of communication, namely:

Telephone
Homing pigeon
Face-to-face conversation
Letters
Song requests
I know I’ve met many of you over the years, and many of the times we’ve only been connected through facebook. This connection is a little to tenuous for me, among other reasons, and I think that relationships should be built on something a little stronger than a website. I’ll always say hello, and I’ll always do my best to be up for a pint.
As usual, I’ll try to continue talking shite here (yes here, this very web page, ifihadaminutetospare.wordpress.com, and among other places, I might send an email with the odd link or whatnot. Don’t be afraid to drop by from time to time, or drop me a line, or whatever it is you do that helps you keep in touch. God knows I know I’ve forgotten how to.”Peace friends. Indeed, peace. Aaaand sleep.

Also, if you’re interested check out these links for some nice thought provoking anti-facebook reading:

Taking it apart and having a look to see what’s really inside

Article about privacy

A niecly made video explaining why anyone bothered making something as innocent as facebook:

I went here to find out how to delete my facebook account.

…and in case you’re thinking I’m totally biased, you can visit http://www.facebook.com if you want to open your own account. Why?

– At least 400 million people log onto their facebook account every month, 50% of whom log on daily.
– 70% of facebook account users are not from the United States
– Facebook is available in 70 languages
– Facebook is the second busiest website by traffic in the world.
– Facebook is valued between 8 and 11 Billion US$
– Psychologists (apparently) have identified ‘facebook addiction disorder’.
– In the Australian legal system (apparently) a facebook legal summons to court is legally binding.

(facts courtesy of mashable.com)