The Internet is for (some) Work

The Internet. According to many authors, psychologists, and historians, the Internet is the bane of reading and writing: the anathema to the patient, thoughtful mind. So often the Internet, and the youth who use it so frequently, are blamed for an (apparently) collapsing creative culture. These accusations usually point to the same set of symptoms: a lack of focus, the inability to “read deeply,”or the prominence of “F-pattern” reading on screens. (Of course, there’s no need to mention that plenty of schools intentionally taught/teach students how to scan and speed read academic material because that’s completely different). The Internet is a place of distraction, an amusement park of fun, fun, fun, where young people go to forget their worries and be distracted.

Then why am I so sick of the Internet? Why do I get so frustrated about pulling out my laptop?

There’s a lot of stuff online that I get a kick out of. I like to play games. I like to message my friends funny pictures. I like to look for cool images and listen to new music and watch movies. I like to be inspired when I’m online. I like it when all these little bits and bobs of data coalesce into an idea that I can do something with. When I’m enjoying the Internet it’s because it motivates me; it motives me to write, or to draw, or to make a movie, or post on my blog. The Internet is fun when it feels like I’m doing something, something that I want to do. But a lot of the time I’m using the Internet for something I’ve been told I have to do. I go online to read assignments for my classes. I go online to discuss on class forums. I go online to apply for jobs. I go online to research essays. I go online to submit my essays. Oh, and those essays are written on a computer with constant access to the Internet where I will be checking my emails and Facebook to make sure I’m not forgetting any important events I should have put in my calendar.

The Internet can be fun. It can be fun because we’re using it for fun things, or it can even be fun when we’re doing work. But people (especially students) are constantly being forced to use the Internet for everything. Yes, forced. If I took my classes and refused to use the Internet I would flunk almost all of them, because that’s where the class is now. It’s fatiguing, and there’s almost no practical way to really take a break. We like to think that putting work onto the Internet just makes things more productive, and in a way it is more productive. But the improvements in accessibility and centralization only mean so much when we’re constantly exhausted and sick of working online. I enjoy coming onto this blog to write my ideas. My posts are usually haphazard and they’re not always the clearest, but I enjoy getting the opportunity to write more. I (usually) enjoy looking online, finding topics and ideas that can inspire me to write here. Lately I haven’t been writing as much, and to be honest, it’s because I’m sick of being on my laptop doing schoolwork.

I know I’m not using evidence here. This is more of a rant than an argument, but let’s not pretend like the Internet is killing society because people like to have fun on it. I think the Internet is burdening people because they’re told they need to keep using it all the time. I would love to be able to sit down and to work and play on my computer without being overwhelmed, but when my eyes are going bloodshot and I can’t sleep from looking at screens, I’d like to take a break.

Cheers,

PH

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