I update my Facebook about mundane life events like ironing my pillowcase to earn my personal record of 19 likes for a status. Next, I change my GChat status to reflect my current Bollywood and Harry Potter obsessions and I send chat messages with links to fluffy animal pictures and videos to my roommate from the other side of the apartment. Afterwards, I write a line of my editorial before scurrying away to Tumblr to update the reblog-fest that is my blog. I top it off with 100 clicks through Reddit and I call it a night.
As a result of using the Internet to this extent, my biggest problem is my attention span. I once had the focus and the stamina to read an entire novel in one sitting, but with blips of entertainment continuously at my disposal, what harm could a two-minute YouTube video and a quick scroll through Reddit really do, besides quadrupling the time required of simple tasks?
Furthermore, my sense of humor similarly has the attention span of a goldfish—whereas I previously enjoyed the clever wit that went into comedy shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway?, I now only need the soft croonings of Nyan Cat and an autotuned “Double Rainbow” soundtrack to give me the giggles and to get me through my day.
On this same note, I have developed an obsession with mundane things that I should not have to resort to the Internet to see. Admittedly, my allergies to furry animals make for an ironic lifestyle that is legitimately only fulfilled by pictures of cute puppies and lolcats. However, I’m far less motivated to experience the world or to get allergy shots when I can see everything from the comforts of my room.
The hours that I spend scrolling through Facebook are utter and complete wastes—what do I stand to gain from reading the statuses (stati?) of all 889 friends?
This brings me to my next problem of defining “friends” and “acquaintances.” While many of my Facebook friends are people I interact with on a daily basis, a sizeable proportion of my friends list includes people I’ll probably never see again, acquaintances I don’t recognize and fellow Tech students I friended without ever meeting in that awkward pre-college phase of blithely talking to EVERYONE in the Facebook group for the Class of 2013.
If I had to hang out with every person on my friends list, I’d be in a pickle. Thankfully, I can very easily identify who my true friends are, but I get some kind of satisfaction out of large numbers of people added on my Facebook profile.
More than just the number of friends, I get an even stranger indulgence out of more likes for my statuses and profile pictures—these “likes” tell me that I’m pretty and witty and bright because my mom’s sincere compliments are evidently not enough.
This instant self-gratification issue bleeds over to other parts of my life. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I ordered an Amazon Kindle at 3:30 a.m. (my sleeping habits could be the topic of another editorial entirely) and became restless when it did not arrive at my doorstep within the next ten minutes. When the Kindle finally reached Tech, I became overly lethargic at the thought of the walk to the Student Center, again wishing someone could just hand it to me on a silver platter. After I picked it up, I was too engrossed in my Kindle, which is yet another bundle of distractions, to update my Twitter and Tumblr. Now, I regret not updating these outlets, but the world is too fast-paced for me to express excitement about something that happened a whole two weeks ago.
Now, I make all of this self-critical commentary as I have open tabs of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, along with an entire browser window dedicated to dozens of Tumblr tabs. Hopefully, the ridiculous nature of my time spent on the Internet highlights what’s wrong about the way you spend your time on the computer.
While it would be largely hypocritical of me to make this recommendation, your best solution to experiencing the same problems as me is to deactivate, delete and block all these time-consuming, friend-confusing and self-indulging web sites.
Will you be missing out on important events and conversational topics in popular culture? Yes.
But you might begin to give importance to your school work, extracurriculars, career aspirations and life beyond the box that is your computer? I sure hope so.