Monday, March 14, 2011

Shame on You For Reading This

Well, not really.

Some people express feelings of guilt for the amount of time they spend in front of a computer screen or staring into a screen on their phone. They think they should be spending more time doing "something else". The problem is, the people who wonder if they're spending too much time online, Facebooking or whatever, are probably not the people who are. The people who are spending too much time are among the people who don't even question it.

I don't think spending time on those things is necessarily bad; often, it is beneficial. Someone might look at the amount of time I spend in front of a computer monitor or using a smart phone, but I am, in no particular order...

1) working
2) checking the news (legit news... not what the latest teen pop guy is doing)
3) involved in a hobby (like this blog) or entertainment
4) keeping in touch with family and friends
5) paying bills, making orders, and doing research about possible purchases
6) writing love letters to my wife

So, the amount of time I spend "online" has to be compared to the amount of time I would be spending watching TV, reading newspapers and magazines, talking on the phone, writing letters, running errands, and doing mail if I couldn't do these things online. In fact, using a this technology may reduce the amount of time spent doing the things that take me away from family or other obligations.

Online technology has also brought enourmous benefits in terms of productity and quality of life. As I type, there are people confirming that their loved ones in Japan are still alive thanks to social networking.

Now, if you're spending two hours a day doing Farmville, and your time working or being with family is suffering as a result, then that's a problem.

Right now, if it weren't for Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, I would have almost zero contact with my friends. That's a problem either way - I should see my friends more often. But right now, I'm not. So, would it be better to have no contact with them, or limited contact that still allows me to keep up on what is going on in their lives?

If you're finding yourself spending too much time reading status updates on Facebook, I highly suggest creating groups/lists of "friends" - one for current coworkers/professional colleagues, another for classmates, etc. One of the things I did was create one that would only be people I just "had" to keep updated with... family, close friends, and contacts through whom I could expect to be reasonably informed about what was going on in certain social circles. That has saved a lot of time for me, because most days I only read the status updates from that that last list. No need to "defriend" anyone. They'll have no idea you aren't reading their status updates, other than that you never comment on anything they do except when you are tagged.

What say you???

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