Thursday, May 2, 2013

To Internet Or Not To Internet? Good Question.

The good news for you (maybe) is that - despite my recent inactivity on this blog and Twitter - I've decided to renew this domain name for another fun-filled year of curated cultural curiosities.

Frankly, I'm not sure how often future updates will come, especially when there's life to be lived and other dreams and hobbies to pursue with increasingly limited amounts of energy and free time I have to devote to them.

However, it looks like I'm not the only one trying to figure out how much time is worth spending on the internet.

Regardless of cause, Facebook has reported a loss of 10 million users in the United States.
The news came as Facebook announced its latest quarterly results, saying it had 1.11 billion monthly active users around the world, up 23% from a year ago. Mobile monthly active users were 751 million, up 54%. But much of the growth is coming from poorer nations, where advertising revenues are lower.
To some, this may be a good thing for society as a whole.

One writer is even proposing that most of our internet consumption is making us lazier, unhappier, and less creative.
I have now gone without news for four years, so I can see, feel and report the effects of this freedom first-hand: less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, more insights. It's not easy, but it's worth it.
Another writer posits that Twitter addiction is the biggest culprit of them all.
After several days, I finally find a panel that poses an intriguing question: “Are Social Media Making Us Sick?” The verdict, handed down by a couple of social-media hands from the firm Abelson Taylor, is apparently: no. Social media amplify whatever mood we’re already in, they say. Happy people tend to stay happy, depressive people, depressed. There’s a lengthy slideshow of a poll they conducted to back this up. It has the feel of tobacco company “scientists” telling us smoking increases lung capacity. Never mind that when they ask who thinks social media are making us sick, three-fourths of this tech-savvy, uber-connected SXSW crowd raise their hands in the affirmative.

And never mind a Michigan State study that found excessive media use/media multitasking can lead to symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. An Oxford University scientist said Facebook and Twitter are leading to narcissism and an “identity crisis” in users, while a Nominet Trust study found four-fifths of U.K. parents fear their children are getting addicted to social networking sites. A Western Illinois University study, as the Atlantic reported, “found a high correlation between Narcissistic Personality Inventory scores and Facebook activity.”
Given how easy it is to manipulate Twitter for nefarious ends, social media might not be the best set of stimuli to constantly bombard oneself with, narcissism aside.

Then again, even if we all took a whole a year off from the internet, it wouldn't necessarily make us happier.
When I return to the internet, I might not use it well. I might waste time, or get distracted, or click on all the wrong links. I won't have as much time to read or introspect or write the great American sci-fi novel.

But at least I'll be connected.
Whatever you think of the internet's impact on your mental health, just be sure to look away from the screen every once in a while.

After all, you only live once.

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