Jul 17, 2012

Is the Internet driving us mad?


Is the Internet driving us mad?Last week I started reading Newsweek’s article “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?” by Tony Dokoupil. Then I grabbed a cup of coffee, answered a few emails and sent a text message. Then, I remembered I was trying to read something — oh yes, that article. I started reading again and stopped here:

“There’s little doubt we’re becoming more impulsive,” says Stanford’s Aboujaoude, “and one reason for this is technology use.” He points to the rise in OCD and ADHD diagnosis, the latter of which has risen 66 percent in the last decade. “There is a cause and effect.”

Uh oh. Interesting. I eventually was able to read the whole article — I mean it was long, and I was busy. While I do not agree with all of the article’s conclusions, one general premise I think we already know: the Internet can be addictive, and the vulnerable and young are most susceptible.

But while agreeing with parts of the article I want to point out the positives because I work at a company that fuels the speed of the Internet. The cloud, the Internet and big data have great benefits: leveling the playing field for people starting a business, giving oppressed individuals a voice and advancing medical research at rates never experienced before — cloud may even help cure a disease one day.

But Mr. Dokoupil never said the Internet was bad, rather that we take it in without thinking. Is that kind of like eating cake because it is in front of me instead of taking two minutes to make a salad? Sort of. Though reading this article did remind me I need to be more mindful of my own habits.

Therefore, I appreciate it if you could help support me as I try to do the following:

1) Turn off my email for an hour or two a day to get something done. Shocking! If it is important, call or come see me. I’m not a police officer, what could be so urgent?

2) Turn off my IM unless really necessary. I do think this tool is useful remotely, but in the office – it’s more for chatting with friends or making fun of people during meetings (I’ve heard).

3) Reduce my screen time. I love TV and the Internet. You don’t watch much TV? Really? I didn’t think so either until I tried Screen Free Week. I’ve participated in this event two times and failed two times. I thought it was torture, but I did talk to my friends more and lost a couple of pounds.

4) Stop multitasking and go back to the old fashioned one thing at a time. You say you are a good multi-tasker? That means you excel at getting nothing done. Congrats! Multitasking is doing dishes while talking to your friend. Going to a meeting and typing up a report at the same time is not paying attention — and p.s. it is rude.

5) Stop looking at my phone while I’m talking to you because p.s.s. — also rude. Oh, I’ve done it tons of times, but when you do it to me I wish I could throw that phone of yours into the garbage. I wouldn’t though because you might snarl at me. Who raised you? Internet wolves?

What habits might you change to consume the Internet your way?

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