Monday, December 6, 2010

busy busy busy (and what may Internet have to do with it)

Why is everybody so busy?  All the freaking time!?  And not the good kind of busy, but the stressed out, wishing for more time,  feeling exhausted kind of busy.  I used to think it was just my line of work, medicine, that was founded on the idea that to be successful you have to give yourself entirely to your job.  Day and night, and weekends too.  But no, it's my 40hr/wk working friends as well.  It's my single friends, my married friends, and of course my friends with kids.  And it's not just a particular week, or month, or even year.  It's ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

I have to admit, it's me too!  I'm starting to really want to know why this is so.  What is it that I'm spending my time doing rather than all the things I feel like I actually want/need to be doing?

And I'm starting to think more and more that the answer lies in this box I'm typing into right now.  And the much smaller box always sitting within arms reach.  Could it be my idle hours are being sucked away forever into cyberspace?  Are these hours better spent?

There was a fabulous project done recently called the Public Isolation Project where my friend Cristin locked herself up into a room downtown for 30 days.  She didn't have any face to face or even telephone communication this entire time.  She only allowed herself access to the internet, and whatever technologies are available there to keep her connected to others.  To share her experience with the world, Cristin stayed in a completely visible corner room downtown, all walls full windows, so that passersby could see her at any moment.  Even while sleeping!  She had some fun finding ways to connect through the glass.
She documented much of her adventures and discoveries and photographs in her 30 day blog, here:

I know many people who look at her challenge and say, "I could do that, easily."  Those people surprise me.  They almost sounded like they wanted to try.  Why?  It looks like such a miserable and unnatural thing, and she truly suffered for it (just read her blog)!

Yet, that's exactly what we do, for hours every day and every week.  We stare into this light box and think we're being social, getting things done, being entertained.  Is it so?  Or are we missing the chance to meet and know our neighbors, have those friends over for dinner party, call up a friend and talk, travel to a new city, try out a new recipe, or get a few extra luxurious hours of sleep!

For my own good, like in many other areas of my life, I want to achieve that ideal balance.  I know there are advantages to this technology.  I'm here, aren't I?  I keep in touch with dearest friends and family across the country and around the world in a way I never could before.  But to be honest, I don't spend all of my time on such noble and high quality ventures.  Much of it is watching dumb videos that promise they might be funny, or reading news stories with a catchy headline, or reading status updates from a group of people that are hoping to be interesting.  Much of that I could do without, and could do better.

I think what we should ask ourselves is, a year from now, will I look back and be glad I spent this time in this way?

What I need is a limited chunk of time set aside for mindless perusing.  The key here being LIMITED.  It's so easy to get sucked in, be distracted, walk down many tangential paths and realize your browser has sprouted a whole family of tabs that each now need to be read.

They actually sell programs to help people with this sort of problem.  Also known as lack of self-discipline or will power.  Have you heard of Freedom?
Maybe that's what I need.

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