Wasting Time on the Interwebs

Posted on Jun 10, 2014
Stavanger, Norway

Easy access to the internet has created the circumstances wherein people who are otherwise smart do not seem to be able to function without constant access to mainframes to help them make decisions in their everyday comings and goings. Electronic maps have been substituted for paper maps; electronic reviews of restaurants have substituted asking locals where they think the best food is. When looking for the answer to a question, the first action that people now take is often to just search the question on an online search engine. This has a freeing effect on knowledge and access to it. Twenty years ago, when there was a question to answer the place to find that answer was a library. Now that first place is the internet, and perhaps the library will follow when internet sites do not journey deep enough into the particular topic of interest. While there are many high-quality academically-oriented sites available, they’re not easy to identify for someone who is not already well-versed in finding and judging what is reputable information. Wikipedia is an excellent source of information, but its model of presentation of information seems that it could often be subject to compromise. In the arena of information, compromise can be to the detriment of accuracy.

Not withstanding, the two most troubling trends of the rise of the internet are the shortened attention spans of frequent users and the diminished interest of consumers towards in-depth research and information. The outcome of the first of these two problems is that there is always something at hand to distract. As soon as a mind wanders, it can wander into a sticky albatross of shallow information limited only by the mind’s fancy. Type anything into the search bar and you will find information related to it. Follow the mind’s meandering and, when questioned what journey was taken to his final destination, the peruser is quite often unable to tell you. This affords an ideal opportunity for procrastination, but not the fruitful kind where new ideas can sprout and grow roots.

It has been already four hours since I started writing this. And I’ve only written a few paragraphs. If I were to be honest, I might tell you that I have spent much of the last few hours mindlessly surfing the internet.