Computers can be such a time-sink. You don’t have any idea how much time you spend in front of the screen until you start documenting it… Think a food journal but for your digital consumption. Have I done this? No, I don’t need to, I already know it’s far too much of my time. I’m thinking of moving all of my writing to an analog system, simply because I can’t overcome the temptation to waste my time looking up random bits of information on wikipedia or metafilter. Worse is the useless task of checking my email or RSS feeds every five to ten minutes. These endless small chores eat away my time until I have none left to do the things I actually want to do!
I thought that working at a desk, in front of a computer for 8 to 10 hours a day would fulfill my need to use the device, but as soon as I get home I flip open the laptop and start it up to see just what has happened in the last 45 minutes. I think I, and those like me, need to admit that we have a problem, an unhealthy obsession with the device and the vast information it serves as a portal to. The constant hovering over my computer in the hopes of catching some small bit of information (99% of the time interesting but useless to me) is keeping me from the deep sources of knowledge, experience, culture, inspiration and wonder that fill my small bedroom. My addiction keeps me from my friends and loved ones, worst of all, it is keeping me from myself. I’ve come to believe that the constant search for “self” is largely driven by a small niche of our consumerist culture (the self-help one that leaves you feeling like someone else or no one at all, and the inability to take responsibility for our actions. I believe that we can improve ourselves but that is a topic for another day though…) Back on topic.
The Internet is a useful means, a great tool, but only one of many that we should use in our daily lives. When it becomes an end, when it only serves to keep us enmeshed in it, it is time to step back and reevaluate what it is we are intending…
Best of all though is that the Internet (and computers) doesn’t provide with anything that can’t be obtained in a more “traditional” way. Friends and family can be contacted with the phone, or better yet, through thoughtful written correspondence. Research can be done at your local city, county, or university library. Games can be played on tables and boards. These slower approaches have been eclipsed by the convenience of the Internet, but at the same time much of the cerebral process, the thoughtfulness of them, has been bypassed as well.
Just a thought anyway… There might be more to it than that, I am going to be moving to a notebook, and not just for idea capture, for writing though. I can’t sit at a the computer without being distracted by the thought of something else going on on-line that I might be missing while I write. This destroys flow terribly.