internet devil
Is Internet the Devil in disguise, or is it an Angel? What about those brats that took over our lives – Email, World Wide Web and Chat?

The Web has grown so big that already has its own little rascals that became an essential part of our life: Google, Blogiverse, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Second Life, and the list goes on.

We became alarmingly dependent on the Internet, it controls a dangerously increasing number of our daily activities. Our trust in Internet is disturbing if we just stop and think about it for a moment. We plan our life on Google Calendar, we store our important documents on Google Docs, we drive to our destinations according Google Map. We entrust our photos to Flickr or other online image galleries. But what if… what if something happens to all those servers, then we’d lose it all. I can hear you saying – don’t forget to backup. But how many of us do forget, or simply don’t know how.

Then there are those privacy issues. How many of us have read the long Terms of Agreement when creating accounts on Facebook or MySpace? Our personal and business details are there in the open. Pretty much anyone can find out who our friends or family members are, what do we like or dislike, how to capitalize on our weaknesses and manipulate our environment. Did you try Google Street View? Did you know that there is already a website, Street View Gallery, where people post curious finds from Google’s van for everyone else to see and even vote on? Now you can’t hide from Internet even when you’re minding your business on the streets of your city, and even in the privacy of your home.

The Blogiverse with all its good intentions makes us all guilty of at least one of The 7 Deadly Sins.

The Email’s impact on our lives is far bigger than the Telephone’s. For so many of us it replaced the phone and simplified our communication with others (business, friends, family). But who would’ve thought that in the XXI century people will be filing for a new kind of bankruptcy – email bankruptcy?

Surely, just like many things in life, Internet has its advantages and disadvantages. What’s important it’s for us to recognize its drawbacks and learn how to take the control back into our hands.

For me the biggest downside of the Internet and all its services is the fact that it eats so much of my time. It can take up to several hours a day to read and respond to all emails, moderate and write for my blog, go through my RSS, comment on blogs, participate in forum discussions. It’s so nice to be chatting online with your friends , but it’s so easy to overlook how much time we loose because of that. Oh, and don’t forget the temptation and the power of clicks – click on a link and I read another fascinating article, that takes me to the next interesting read with yet another click. In no time I’m left with no time to do all those numerous things on my To Do list.

So how can we get the work done and indulge ourselves with all those Internet goodies? Carefully divide and organize your activities, prioritize them and set the limits:

  1. Complete an important task from your To Do list first and then treat yourself to reading your favourite blog, but set a time limit – say put aside no more than 15 min of blog reading & commenting time. And move on to the next task.
  2. Go unplugged: turn off your internet connection, to resist the temptations of Web surfing, IM, block the new email notices.
  3. Set a special day or time when you can surf the Web, write for your blog(s), read RSS, reply to emails, and so on. Say, in the morning you take care of your emails, in the afternoon you catch up with your RSS, and in the evening or on the weekend you write, or any other way that works for you. But stick to it.
  4. Participate in my Group Writing Project: Time Management and subscribe to Inspiration Bit to read more tips from me and from others on September 29th, 2007.

How do you tame this beast with many heads, called the Internet? How do you control and treat your internet addiction?

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28 Insightful Bits in response to “Internet Is The Devil In Disguise”

  1. I am one of the many that has grown totally dependent on the internet. I would be lost if I could not access the internet for more than two days. You are right on with many of your posts.

    I keep a takslist on igoogle but some days I start reacting to what is going on and I never get to one item that is on there.

  2. I work on the internet, I make money from my websites, I communicate through the internet. My blog is about the internet. Without the internet I would be broke. I would have to go live in a bush somewhere.

    You have a good point. Except for me to put my computer off means no pay, no communication with the outside world, no news, no tv since i watch tv online.

    I recently wrote a post on my blog about imagine being new to the internet.

    Well if there is no internet, i think i would be stressing big time since its the thing i am good at.

  3. It’s not until someone elucidates our dependencies that one realises how bound we are to these technologies. And there’s no going back.
    It’s interesting that technology that should save us time, actually eats into more and more of our “free” time. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom; however, I do see in your post a call to moderation.

    I really like your idea of going unplugged, and for the first time in many years, I think I’m going to take you up on your “challenge”. I’ve always excused/justified my 24/7 plugged-in habit, as a necessary “evil”. However, the sky most likely will not fall in, if I go “Internetless” for just a day each week. I can at least try.

    If you happen to witness the sky actually falling in during the next week, then you’ll know that…

  4. I both love and hate the internet. I can’t live without it – if you look at my google reader list you’ll find it full of awesome and inspirational blog feeds. I also buy my fonts and stock photos online for instant delivery – surely any graphic designer takes this for granted in this day and age!

    At the same time, it’s a huge distraction. I have a blog, and I also need to do research and reading to keep abreast of current issues, but I also have a Live Journal with 202 friends and communities.

    Because of this, I restrict my reading to my lunch hours. The temptation is there to read absolutely EVERYTHING on the internet, but in all reality you can’t. If I have to skip a few feeds, so be it – the world isn’t going to end!

    I read email as it comes in and flag it if I’m too busy to address it straight away, or if my mind is on another project. I write lots of lists for myself, and cross things off as I finish them. It’s important to have a sense of priority – and if it’s not natural to you, train yourself to respond to things by importance of priority.

  5. Did I see you direct your readers to two other blog posts and help them spend more time than they originally want to? Kidding.

    BTW, I think google might not be powerful enough to reach me in the real world here in Hong Kong. My home are not connected to the NET all year round, I am only not 404 when I decide to find a place that offers free access to the internet in my weekends. In weekdays, I would usu. arrive at my workplace earlier than I am required to to browse thru my GReader list. I am lucky not being overwhelmed yet… but soon it will be the case, I guess.
    Thanks again for your post, inspiring as always.

  6. Vivien

    Joey, don’t let the occasional deviation from your plan discourage you. Celebrate your accomplishments, and work on reducing the setbacks.
    Sometimes I get angry with myself for being not that organized and efficient, but when I look back weeks or months later, I’m surprised and impressed with how much I was able to accomplish during that time.

    Esvl, I can totally relate with you. I too make money on Internet – I design web sites, without internet nobody would need them.

    John, good luck with going unplugged. Please, let me know how did it go? And of course, I’ll let you know whether or not I see the falling sky :-)

    Natalie, do you actually remember the names of all your 202 contacts on LiveJournal?! I like your email strategies. I do the same, plus I’ve also created several subfolderrs in my Inbox (clients, work, todo, family, friends, etc.) and droping the comments there.

    kRiZ, of course I wanted the readers to spend their time just like I do on many blogs. Just paying it forward :-)

  7. Vivian – oh heck no I don’t remember all the names of the people on my LJ friends list!
    ;)

  8. I work through the Internet and email too; however, perhaps we would all benefit from regular time off-line.

    I wonder whether there really is such an intimate relationship between our being online and our making money; or, I wonder, I suspect, that sometimes we are like the smoker who needs another cigarette for his nerves ;) Is our habitual Internet use justified. or are we simply addicted?

  9. Hey! Thanks for the link to the “7 deadly sins of blogging.”

    I agree with your point that anything can be bad in excess; if you are spending time surfing for lolcat pics rather than studying for a final, or playing endless rounds of sudoku instead of saving your child from a rabid raccoon… yeah. That’s an inappropriate use of time.

    On the other hand… nobody ever complains about penicillin, modern transportation (cars, trains, planes), TV, rapid printing, etc. I mean, they may complain about quality issues, but never, “Dang that printing press! It was so much better when people had to take the time to really write out what they meant by hand!”

    I think the Internet (and many other recent mediative technologies) are just new. We need to slot them into their proper places in our lives.

    [pimp on] I wrote about this awhile ago after reading a bunch about “continuous partial attention;” always in the context of it being a bad thing.

    As long as you make intelligent choices, I don’t think there’s such thing as a bad technology. Except for stuff designed specifically to kill or hurt people. Or maintain reruns of “Welcome Back Kotter.”

  10. Although I spend maybe ten hours a day online, I don’t think I’m addicted. When I go on vacation, I don’t bother looking for internet cafes (and sometimes the closest one is a 20 minutes drive, so I’d skip it). I could live without it, although my latest business is based on it (internet marketing :)). If it disappeared, I would find another attraction in minutes. It may be a matter of age here, though. I lived my first 28 years of life without internet (because it was not invented yet) and I never missed it. When I saw it for the first time, I wondered what could be its use… I’m still amused when I remember.

  11. Things like Facebook have actually allowed me to increase the amount of social interaction I have with people and grow relationships that would otherwise have died. Just yesterday I met with a friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade because I found him on Facebook and we were able to meet.

    I understand the need to control myself though and not allow it to be too much of a time-waster.

  12. Pvan471

    I agree with you that internet is very addicted and your advice at the end is really helpful. But I don’t think that “Internet is the devil”, because no matter how temping it might be internet is just a tool, I don’t think you would blame a chocolate to be evil if you get fat by eating it a lot wouldn’t you? :P

    Thanks again for your 4 time management advice, I’ll use it wisely. :D

  13. I most certainly would blame that chocolate for making me fat! LOL

    Haha, oh how true that so much of my time is wasted by the Internet! I like your point about setting aside special time to surf, write, read, reply, etc. And I think we become more efficient when we can “batch process” our tasks, do all the same things at the same time. I’m working on setting aside time on the weekend to outline my posts for the coming week. It’s working really well for me and helps me to not be stressed the day before I want to have a post up. Hey, maybe I can write about that for your writing project! Has anyone taken up that topic yet?

    What’s even more scary is how dependent we are on technology for the REALLY important stuff: money and personal identification. I do not want to think about what would happen if all the banks suddenly lost their financial databases…

  14. Vivien

    Andy, I’ve read your post about 7 blogging since some time ago, and was always thinking about the way incorporating it into one of my posts and linking to you. I agree, it’s all about making intelligent choices and not going overboard.

    John, before I got into blogging, I wasn’t addicted to the Internet. Now though, I think I’m slowly getting there. And this post is more of a cry for help of my own soul than others’.

    Simonne, you’ve got a point there: age does play a role in this internet addiction, the longer and the sooner we all got hooked on it, the more dependent we find ourselves.

    Chris, I still haven’t integrated Facebook into my daily activities that much. I guess I just don’t have much time left for it anymore. But I’m glad it helped you to find you long lost friend.

    Pvan471, of course the chocolate is evil, especially the Dark 100% chocolate :-) just kidding. I didn’t say that the internet is evil, I just questioned whether or not it is the devil in disguise. I often find myself questioning different things, this was just one of them.

    Lauren, yes, please do write about your time and blog management strategies. Everyone has a different approach, so don’t worry what others wrote about it.
    brr… I don’t want to think about online banking either….

  15. Hi Vivien – I hope you’re well! :)

    I remember reading a book many years ago, which covered the theme of downloading your life into a computer before you died – in order to achive virtual immortality… I guess we’re probably not far off this concept now, are we? ;)

  16. Vivien

    Hi Paul. I’m still alive, so it’s all good ;-)
    What’s the name of that book, remember?
    We’re actually pretty close to this concept – flickr, google calendar, facebook… and many other sites already own parts of our life.

  17. Nope. I just can’t remember what it was called – although I’m now wondering if it was perhaps a film rather than a book..?

    It’s an idea that’s been covered extensively in literature though – and even in real life to some extent (http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....2.000.html).

    Scary. But exciting at the same time… ;)

    Paul

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on