Lost in On-line Addiction

There are one thousand four hundred forty minutes in a day, five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes in a year. On average we spend 1/3 of that time sleeping, leaving nine hundred sixty minutes a day, three hundred forty six thousand eight hundred ninety six minutes a year to do things.

When you think about it, it sounds like quite a bit. As you pass through your first few years, you can almost hear each second of the clock tick. With the passage of time, the sound is blurred, time speeds up, and each tick of the clock seems to represent a season, or a year, or a decade.

Einstein forgot to mention that not only is time relative, but it is accelerating. As a wise older man once told me, ‘monthly magazines come every three days.’

Being conscious of this aforementioned phenomenon of time acceleration, I decided to pay attention to the things I do with my time.

I created a little experiment I call Connectivity Impact; separating myself from the online world in toto and measuring the amount of time I could redirect to other things.

No email

No messaging

No social media

No surfing the net

I must say it has proven both refreshing and enlightening.

Here is the number of items waiting for my attention when I rejoined the world of connectivity.

845 emails all clamoring for my time.

I timed myself in opening several and reading them through. It took an average of 20 seconds. If I responded it added, on average, an additional 30 seconds.

Thus if I read all the emails (16900 seconds) and responded to only 10% (1690 seconds) it took about 300 minutes of time out of my life.  5 hours a week/260 hours per year. More than 10 days. Just for email.

Facebook: I had 45 Notifications/Messages/Friend requests. It took me 20 minutes to read through/respond. It was hard for me to tell how many newsfeed notices were there since I last checked, but holding the down arrow and watching the screen fly by so fast as to be unreadable, it took a full 2 minutes to get to notifications dated on the last time I checked. If I only took a second to look at them all and only stopped to read 10% of them I am estimating it would take at least 120 minutes. Thus Facebook took 140 minutes of my allotted time.

Twitter/Instagram/Linked in: Without going into more detail and further wasting your time, which is the whole point I am trying to make, it took 45 minutes for me to sort through it all.

If I went through the normal process of reading some, responding to some, deleting some, forwarding some, in the timeframe I was “off the grid,” it would have taken almost 500 minutes of my time. 8 1/2 hours.

Now we add in, just for arguments sake, 30 minutes a day surfing the net. That brings the weekly total to more than 10 hours per week doing nothing but staring at a computer screen reading, for the most part, senseless drivel. Out of all the emails I received, 25 required a reply for either business or personal matters. All the rest were mostly attempts to entertain, politicize, criticize or promote some meaningless point of view.

This was just for a 7-day period. Seven days! Over the course of a year, I would spend 520 HOURS reading email/Facebook/Instagrams/Twitter material without including net surfing, googling trivia, and watching YouTube videos.

Keep in mind, I do not work a traditional job (I write and it is a solitary endeavor) so I am not receiving work related emails. Unless you count rejection notices from publishers, but I consider them to be a source of inspiration.

I recall when I worked at Southwest Airlines there was easily 40 to 50 emails a day, most of which had to be read and at least 1/3 required responses. This doesn’t include cell-phone calls/texts. I have a cellphone. I use it only if I need to call or text someone, which is minimal. The time I spend on it is minimal. I know that is not the case for many, if not most, people. When I see people watching TV shows or movies on a phone I want to cringe. These things used to be something you looked forward to, now they are just something else to waste time on.

And I am also one of the few remaining people in this world who does not play Candy Smash or whatever the game of the moment is. That seems to be an even more insidious time thief.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating abandoning technology. I couldn’t reach as many people as I do with these posts without it. I am advocating that we take a hard look at what time we devote to these various technologies and seek a balance in our lives. Instead of watching videos, try actually doing things.

If you do the math, and extend to the numbers to a year, “on-line” takes 21 days of my time on an annual basis. For most people I am willing to say it is much, much more.

21 days of your finite time in this world. And that’s 21 full days, if you deduct sleep time, it takes about 29 days a year to deal with online activities. A month out of your life.

Seems like a lot of time to me to spend watching cat videos.

If you are of my generation, (interesting correlation to time acceleration is age relativity, I now consider sixty years old to be just a kid,) we didn’t have these issues to deal with until our thirties. My daughter’s generation has dealt with them almost from birth. Her children will deal with it from birth (Facetime/Facebook announcements/etc.)

This is not a plea for a return to the “good-old days.” Our perception of the good old days is often a twist on Shakespeare’s words “The evil men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”

In the case of the “good old days” we remember the good, and gloss over the bad. These are the only days we have. That is what we need focus on.

I recognize there are some great benefits from this connectivity. In many countries, the internet is a lifeline to free expression and access to new ideas. There are posts from sites like Humans of New York which highlight the best of our diversity and sadly sometimes point out the worst of things we do to our fellow man.

But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Perhaps if those of us in countries like ours, with open and free access to these worlds, understood the value and power of such technology we would use it more selectively. We would stop watering down the net with meaningless, nonsensical pleas and requests to “like” or “forward.” We could stop flooding the cyber-world with messages containing pictures of colorful sunsets, puppies in the snow, or horses dancing on beaches holding promise that you’ll receive money/blessings/etc. I am not a religious person, but I have read many of the books. Not one mention of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram as a vehicle for contacting the Supreme Being du jour.

Maybe he/she/they are off-line? Is it possible ‘god’ or “God” or the “Goddess” doesn’t have an email address? No Twitter handle? No Facebook page?

If that is what you seek or embrace, try using your mind and heart. Stop looking for quick fix Tweets to bring eternal salvation or to spread the word and tell the world of your devotion to a particular faith.

There are many who find a false courage in the deceptive anonymity of being online. This false sense of empowerment makes them willing to say things online they lack the courage to say in person. Used improperly, it turns even the meekest among us into bullies. Until they are found out.

When did having an online video go viral become a worthwhile goal?  Why would anyone admire someone who stood around and took a video instead of helping out? We’ve become a world of voyeurs seeking pleasure in watching others suffer and rewarding those standing idly by doing nothing.

Back to the numbers.

The life expectancy of my generation for a male is 82, (although I am hoping to exceed expectations.) This means, if I can believe my research, that I can look forward to spending 262 days of the 7030 days I have left on the following.

Answering emails, reading the latest Mark Z’berg giveaway nonsense believed by the dumbasses of the world, watching cat videos, listening to belligerent uneducated morons proclaiming their expertise on everything from military policy, to immigration, to police procedures, to the second amendment, to what they claim is the one true religion.

Draining my humanity one digital moment at a time.

On-line is a wealth of information, lacking the filter of knowledge and common sense.

To steal a line from one of the most profound sources of wisdom in the world today, coffee cup slogans, “Don’t confuse your Google search with my education and years of experience.”

I have returned to the world of connectivity. I look forward to the many benefits, now more cognizant of the risks and pitfalls.

Will I let it consume any more time than is necessary and practical?

I don’t f$&^ing think so.

(You can email a response to joe.broadmeadow@hotmail.com, Joseph.Broadmeadow@gmail.com, jebroadmeadow@gmail.com, Tweet to me at @jbroadmeadow, I am on Linked in and Instagram. You can comment here or my WordPress blog or ‘like’ or comment on my Facebook page.)

See what I mean? It is insidious.

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About Joe Broadmeadow

Joe Broadmeadow retired with the rank of Captain from the East Providence Police Department after serving for 20 years. He is the author of the novels Collision Course, Silenced Justice, and Saving the Last Dragon available on Amazon in print and Kindle. Joe is working o the latest in a series of Josh Williams and Harrison "Hawk" Bennett novels and a sequel to Saving the Last Dragon. In 2014 Joe completed a 2,185 mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail
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One Response to Lost in On-line Addiction

  1. Daniel T. Walsh says:

    My take on time is this: The past is delusion; the present, elusion; the future, illusion.

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