Today I read a post at Zen Habits that reported a disturbing statistic. According to the post, 65% of internet users reported spending more time with their computer than with their own spouse!
I don’t know if that statistic subtracted the time spend on work-related computer usage. The sad fact is that we all spend more time at work than we do with our family and friends. This is especially true in the United States, where people think that getting a week of paid vacation a year is a big deal! (How pathetic is that? Some of us might even bring our laptops with us on our family vacation!) Most of us have parents who worked 40 years for a corporation, got moved around, got ulcers, got heart attacks, and got pressured into long hours at the expense of health and family time. The reward was a retirement party in the lunchroom, complete with a store-bought cake and coffee in styrofoam cups. (They also used to give you a gold watch. How stupid is that? About the time you don’t need to catch the 6:45am bus anymore, they give you a watch!)
Maybe they don’t give out gold watches anymore, but maybe they should. Then we could see how much time we voluntarily sit at our own computers looking at drivel that is just as bad as the office memos you see in “Dilbert.” The really strange thing is that nobody is forcing us to sit there and do this!
We all read about diets on our computer screen, and just get fatter and fatter. Even our kids are getting fatter while sitting in front of the computer. I have even read that many of us have less sex because of the computer! No- the “adult” sites do NOT count! Hey, those sites are bad enough, but isn’t most of all types of net surfing part of the same mindset? Don’t you ever just wander around the net thinking that you might fnd something that might really ring your bell in one way or another? (I am not sure that porn surfing is more addictive than other forms of surfing, but I am no expert on this. But I am guessing that some kind of intermittent reinforcement conditioning is all part of this.)
The article and comments in Zen Habits had a few suggestions and devices for increasing “productivity” by monitoring time wasted on the net. Now, I don’t really agree with “productivity” paradigm, because more productivity usually just getting more work done, and I don’t know if that should really be an end in itself. That just means getting more work out of you and more moolah for the boss. If it gets you more time with your kids, then I will go along with it.
The guys who started the whole idea of this country spent long nights in taverns singing and toasting each other. They drank and laughed and talked about exciting ideas. But I hear that now we can buy each other “virtual beers” at social bookmarking sites. What a bunch of pathetic dweebs we have become!
Not too long ago, Elton John suggested that the internet should be turned off for five years. He was concerned about what the net might be doing to music and culture. Geeks across the world called for his head on a platter. The repsonse in the blogosphere was a huge disappointment. There was no intelligent discussion about the pros and cons of the internet. There was no meaningful thinking about the idea. Just outrage and personal attacks for Sir Elton, the “old Luddite.”
Perhaps there will be less outrage if I call for internet abstinence for just one day? I challenge every blogger out there to give it up for just one day! On May 15th, shut down your computer and go outdoors! You might have to give up some of your sense of self-importance, but it would be interesting to see if the world stops turning because you did not blog. And all of us might find out what it is like to be a little less “wired in” to electronics, and a bit more tuned in to the people around us. Maybe you could head down to the local tavern and sing drinking songs with your buddies! Real beer and real friends.
Help me spread the word to promote May 15th, 2008 as Blog Inaction Day!