The Slow Web?
The way I use the internet has been bothering me for a while now. I’m an information junkie. It doesn’t even have to be useful or even amusing information, I just love knowing stuff. I’ve gone beyond turning the web into a time-sink; it is now a life-sink for me. I feel like I am not just wasting time online, but wasting my life. I busy myself with trivial things, bits and pieces of information from all over, a constant stream of updates about what people are up to, never truly present, engaged with or focussed on one thing.
It may seem ironic that I’m bemoaning my misuse of the internet on my blog, but believe it or not, I think this blog has been very good for me. Journaling, online and offline, forces me to slow down and focus my thoughts. It forces me to concentrate and communicate. The nature of this blog also encourages me to read. Books force me to sit down and engage with one thing at a time and the practice of reading books and long articles strengthens my ability to focus.
Twitter has its place, and I often find myself linked via Twitter to longer, thought-provoking articles that are relevant to my interests. The same seems to be true of Google+, though I suppose it is still early days yet. I suspect it may be just the way I use it, but Facebook seems to have become very noisy. I know, Facebook does keep me in touch with my friends, but for me there is a superficiality to it, where I feel like I’m usually just keeping an eye on my friends. I don’t want to just keep an eye on my friends, I want to engage with them, to have them be part of my life and me a part of theirs. I want community.
I miss long chains of email conversations (or the “Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hello” type emails in the days before GMail). I miss quietly focussing on things that are actually important to me. I miss feeling that my time was well-spent. I’ve decided to slow down, to focus more. I think this blog and the thought and reading it encourages is helping me to do that. I would appreciate any advice on slowing down online and on how to have a more contemplative 21st-century life.