Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What do you think is going to happen in there?

Too many of us spend too much time staring into a screen as if it meant more than the world around us.

Clicking, as if that next click would make us happy.

Never Never
In this game, you have to drink if you have done any of these things...
  1. Checked Facebook, Twitter, or emails more than once an hour to see if anything exciting has happened to someone else in that last hour that you can read about
  2. Delayed family time ("come and play please Mummy!") to continue a stinging online debate with a stranger
  3. Read the comments on a deliberately controversial topic just to watch the same old vicious arguments
  4. Commented with esoteric knowledge on a lightweight article in the mainstream media
  5. Checked back repeatedly on your own comments to see if anybody else liked them, or replied
  6. Interrupted important work to see if your favourite comic or funny blog has a new post
  7. Developed passionate interests in causes - but only read about them online
  8. Kept on clicking way past your bedtime to make a bad start to the next day...
Anyone drunk yet?  Guilty as charged.  There's something so compelling about "reality Internet".  There's no end to the show - willing volunteers doing weird and wonderful things, or being outrageously rude to total strangers.  And yet the real world is going on around you, without you.  Is that what you want for your day?

Where's YOUR impact?
I highly recommend this very timely free ebook by Leo Babauta which runs along very similar lines to my own musings these days in a much more thorough and helpful treatment.  Leo discusses freeing yourself from distractions (often online distractions) so you can focus on creation.  He mentions the small ego boost available each time you get a response to your thoughts online.  I would go further:
The internet encourages you to become a passive perpetual consumer who never creates anything. 
The internet never runs dry of interesting looking connections - and you can effortlessly, brainlessly, spend all the spare time you have, plus some that wasn't so spare, following these leads and then looping back to check your social networks.  What difference are you making?  We all have our own road to creativity but we have to get our own feet moving on it.

Constant consumption replacing intentional creation is as bad as always eating and never exercising.

Finding the energy
I once commented online that if someone was making no progress with decluttering, perhaps they needed to stop using their precious spare time to read about it (and write why they couldn't do it) and start doing it.  The response was both aggressive and defensive - clearly a nerve had been touched.

We can all come up with excuses for why we don't do what needs doing.  The internet makes it so easy to ignore your problems - you don't have to look at anything but the screen! 
There's nothing in here to beat the thrill of something you accomplished yourself.  There's nothing in here as satisfying as reaching the end of the day knowing you spent hours making your life better.   Accomplishments are as energising as exercise, and just as necessary.
You could visit Facebook once a day just to post your own exciting news...


  1. I'm definitely bad at staying up too late- reading about interesting topics, like for a couple of days I've read about unschooling. The same has always been with interesting books though. It's very hard to stop, and not just keep reading a little bit more! I forget to look in facebook for days though.....

  2. We all have such different triggers - when I read advice from other people it can be a real exercise to think "and how does that apply to me...?" There's always something!

  3. I just came across your blog doing just what this post was about. You have totally pegged me, and probably millions of people. Kind of crazy. I'm going to log off now ... Good posts :)

  4. Hi Deborah, nice to see you here!

    I know it's a bit crazy telling people on an online blog that they should spend less time online :-) but even though this is one of my major creative outlets, I'm just as guilty of wasting time doing other things online.