Sunday, August 23, 2009

Addiction

Does it occur to you that as we once narrowly escaped from becoming couch potatoes while we were moronically zapping the tv remote control, since then we turned into e-zappers, the web browser replaced our tv, and the mouse replaced our remote control.

I thought I had made a smart move when I stopped watching tv and hooked into Internet instead. But to my agony nothing has changed much, I am constantly letting myself to the tide of my childish alter ego's curiosity, let my index finger makes semi-conscious decisions as I move from one hyperlink to another.

This is a huge problem as it brings no sense of achievement or completeness. Everything is cut half, nothing is finished, no article, no blog post is read to the end. There is ephemeral joy of addiction while I am e-zapping, but a sense of emptiness and loss of self when I get up and switch myself off from the virtual world.

There is something completely wrong about the way I use the Internet and I am going to change it. I believe there is a certain limit in the information load that we can comfortably cope with. At times we need space and focus to do our own number. Sometimes I tend to think that Internet is a monster, an information over-loader that needs to be harnessed by our consciousness before we let it to take over our ego.

3 comments:

anti ob said...

Well, speaking personally of course, and not commenting on your own habits, I'd have to say "Yes and no".

I haven't owned a tv in... I don't know, actually - 11 years now? And I don't miss it, but at the same time few things annoy me more than people who don't have one and are incredibly self-righteous about it. Hey, I still watch TV - I just watch it on the computer, where I can watch what I want, when I want it, with a minimum of ads. And even when I'm not watching TV on the computer, I'm still - as you point out - just trading one habit for another. And I have definitely been guilty of staying on feeds and / or mailing lists that I'm not really getting much out of anymore. So there's your "Yes".

But there's a "No" side as well. _Some_ browsing activity can be very much like that surface-dipping, zero-retention channel flicking activity so familiar from TV. But not all of it by any means. Web surfing is even at its worst at least a more interactive activity than vacantly staring at a screen full of nothing, but vacantly clicking links is surely worse than actually watching and absorbing a decent show. Its not the activity, its the level of engagement and involvement that I think is important. To my mind, school yourself to stop doing whatever it is - even reading a book - as soon as you realise you're getting nothing out of it, and don't worry much about what medium you happen to be perusing. (Says the guy who was up from 3am to 4am the other night browsing the archive of a webcomic that I didn't even think was particularly funny. And I basically _never_ put a book down unfinished. Hey; we've all got room to improve, right?)

The problem is that thousands if not millions of years worth of evolution tell us to treat all input as important. We're living now in a world where that is far from the case, and we need to learn to filter. Nothing wrong with being addicted to the bits you're still learning from; just learn to let go of the rest.

MemeMachineMan said...

Ergun - An insightful post. Thank you.

Caroline said...

So true, I'm getting off the internet right now and going to read my book.
Right after I invite you to a group you'll like in Linked in, see my comments on focus...