Yeah, Al Gore’s invention gets a lot of flack. Thanks to the interwebs, we now have a million little distractions right at our fingertips. We have Lolcatz and Facebook, and websites with endless lists of utterly useless facts that keep us glued to our screens for hours.
Most of us in blog-land try to “unplug” for vacations, or at least a couple of weeks a year. But the guy in this video is taking it to the next level. He’s leaving the internet entirely behind…for an entire year. Anything that would involve computers communicating with each other is strictly non-kosher.
It made me think, maybe all the time I waste online is cancelled out by the time I’m saving. Hmmm…
The Olden Days of the Early Nineties
Last week, I felt like an octogenarian, describing to my students how I learned to use a library “card catalog” system as a grade school student. The fact that we learned to sift through drawers of actual cards seems so absurdly arcane, I’d rather just scan the shelves until I happened upon a book I wanted. And I was a student in the nineties. The next week, we learned how to use microfiche. Just saying that word makes me chuckle.
As a college student, we did not have YouTube to distract us, but we also did not have Wikipedia. If we didn’t know a fact off-hand, we resigned ourselves to live in ignorance forever, because, as I already established, going to the library was a giant waste of time.
It makes me smile to myself that students complain that teachers still do not let them use Wikipedia as an official source for research. It does not matter that the average time it takes for the Wikipedia community to correct an erroneous article is three minutes. Wikipedia will never be Brittannica…which stopped being printed recently after two-hundred years.
To be honest, my job would not just be possible fifteen years ago. Not just the part of my job I spend surfing Amazon. With my art students, I’d be doomed to searching for expensive color prints of art, kept in a filing cabinet. My yearbook students would still be cutting heads out of physical photographs to make awful looking collages. (Now we just use Photoshop to make awful looking collages.) And I’d be racking my brain for new projects, rather than just stealing them from Pinterest.
Speaking of wasting time, I think I’d rather stay lost than try to fold a road map. And a map never told you the three nearest places to get ice cream.
So maybe we do waste a lot of time online. But maybe it’s just time we’ve saved in other ways. Just watch this video and see how long this guy spends trying to buy a phone.
What do you think? Does the internet save more time than it wastes? Would you unplug for a year?