The growth of the internet has created many opportunities and also many challenges. Through the internet I have been able to work from home writing about things I enjoy. The internet has also enable an effective outlet for writing such as this blog. Yet, although the internet has many advantages it also presents many difficulties, not least it is easy to waste time when on the internet. In a way I am glad to have had a perspective of life before the invention of the internet / email and even computers. Yes, we really did survive without the internet and computers – it’s hard to imagine now, but I think we were even really quite happy 🙂
The Addictive nature of the Internet
There is something about the internet that makes it difficult to switch off. There is always our email / RSS feed / statistics / games to play / News to check. The problem is that the internet can easily become a time filler. We start off with the intention of doing something productive, but quite soon, we have spent many hours of filling in our time and have nothing to show for it – apart from a slightly guilty conscience. To avoid this I try to follow these steps.
- Have a clear purpose when using the computer
- Keep a record of what you are actually doing (or not doing as the case may be)
- Set fixed periods to switch off the computer.
- Not every 10 minutes break has to be filled by turning on the computer.
- Take day / weekend off. I often travel at the weekend, I may take a laptop, but, I’m usually grateful for the opportunity to spend a day or two without the computer / internet. When I do turn on the computer on Monday, you realise that it is actually fine not to check your email for a day or two – it certainly isn’t necessary to check every hour or so, which I sometimes end up doing.
Multitasking and getting nothing Done
So often on the computer I am trying to do several things at once. Maybe I have several tabs open, and even 2-3 browsers open. You can flit from one task to another, and you forget what you started. I do my shopping online; recently I created an order but because I was multitasking so much I forgot to send the order – so it was all wasted. If a program is very slow to load, then it is good to open another tab and do more something else. But, there is great power in focus, and this is lost when we try to do several things at once. Part of the problem is that we try chasing super-productivity – trying not to waste even a second. But, this kind of productivity target can be counter productive; we lose focus and don’t do the job as well as we should. It is also stressful to try and do several things at once. Now if a page takes a few seconds to load I try to be patient or think about what I will be doing next. All I know is that when I start multitasking, my brain can’t cope.
The Pseudo Life
The internet encourages instant messaging, discussing on forums e.t.c. There is nothing wrong with these in moderation. But, communicating electronically can never replace the benefit of speaking and meeting people in person. When there is a real connection with people, it is much more powerful than an electronic communication.
The internet has a seemingly infinite quantity of information. One piece of information leads to another. The more information we gain the more we start to seek. Yet, mental information can never give us true satisfaction. We overload our mind with information and opinion, but, it does not give us illumination. The acquisition of information does not change us nor does it change the world. To make effective change we need to be spurred to action, not just read about things that could do with changing. I think one of the keys to happiness is living in the heart and getting away from the judgemental mind. If we spend too much time reading the injustices of the world, we will not be able to change them, and we will not be cultivating happiness.
Photo by Unmesh Swanson, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries