Some thoughts and implications about Internet overload in Daydreaming on the Porch

  • Sept. 21, 2021, 5:29 a.m.
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  • Public

I’m a former journalist, and it was my life at one time when I was younger. I was totally caught up in every aspect of news. That career and way of life ended rather abruptly 30 years ago, and I never returned to the profession. However, I still have that intense interest in knowing what’s going on in my hometown, state, nation and the world. Everything interests me. I have always had a widely roving sense of curiosity about people, places, events and happenings “out there” beyond my own little world.

The problem is that where we once had access to a few newspapers and nightly news on TV, now with the Internet there’s exponentially more news, opinion, feature stories, and “content” if you wiIl, than I ever could have imagined in my wildest dreams. It’s literally a continuous cascade of information and stimuli, as is true with the Internet is in general. I try to limit my sources, but I have so many I feel almost compelled to check frequently. This, I realize, can be a real hindrance to spiritual growth and meditation in all its forms, as well as learning in depth. Sometimes the only way I can get away from it is when I’m far off walking in the woods.

The question becomes, “How much do I need to know, and beyond myself, how much do any of us need to know before our brains defensively react to the onslaught?” This question is going to pre-occupy me until I’ve arrived, for the first time ever, at a workable solution. But it’s going to be very difficult because through the various media I read and engage with I feel connected to the pulse of life in these tumultuous times. I feel I must know what is going on in the world because we are all interconnected, whether we like that or not.

When I’m informed, I feel less lonely and insulated. Withdrawing from most of that would create a huge vacuum that I’d have to fill through reading books, reflecting on life, listening to music, meeting people “in real life” instead of living like a hermit, and being too introspective. This would be a very good thing. But the Internet has for years pulled my away from these thing. I’m not blaming the Internet. It’s my conscious decision and I love bouncing around the Web immersing myself, even for just a short time, in all the wonder and riches online.

However, books really are the answer to so many of these questions I’ve posed, but the Internet totally distracts me. Endless YouTube videos, as just one example, pass by in a constant stream, and what am I left with after watching each one, sometimes more than once? A feeling of vague emptiness. This despite the fact that I love being absorbed in YouTubes and find some of them riveting and fascinating, as if a some portal is opening to thoughts, ideas and situations I’ve never cone across before. But again, the pleasure is fleeting and I would struggle to recall what I had just learned. But, I will gladly exchange this type news and opinion for these other types of content. I just have to pull away from the temptation to frequently check the news.

Again, to re-emphasize, books allow the deepest possible engagement with ideas from other minds. This seems incontrovertible to me and so difficult to find the time for in this AGE OF THE INTERNET!

At the same time, it’s unwise to retreat from retreat drastically from the Internet in a quest to delve only into purer, deeper and more enlightened subjects. I really don’t know where to draw the line, but I’m working on it. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

“The neuroscience of news overload”

https://elemental.medium.com/the-neuroscience-of-news-overload-9dda817f5ee5


Sleepy-Eyed John September 21, 2021 (edited September 21, 2021)

Edited

I spend first 3-hrs without internet or phone. Read, do dishes, have a coffee, walk, errands, etc. It's a game changer. Especially when you start the day thinking what do I do now? Because all those things you might put off or forget about become possible. :) The struggle is real!

Oswego Sleepy-Eyed John ⋅ September 21, 2021

Real indeed. I could not possibly start my day that way. Or at least I want to say that. My fingers are twitching to start accessing news, email, text and YouTubes, etc., etc. as I try to eat my cereal! 🥺

Sleepy-Eyed John Oswego ⋅ September 21, 2021

You might have a problem! :p

I hear ya. I fiend for internet and messages too but I don't get enough from the sources I access to make it feel worthwhile.

Oswego Sleepy-Eyed John ⋅ September 21, 2021

It’s only a problem if I think of it that way. In reality it’s my comforting and entirely satisfying routine. And since I’m retired, routines are very important. Keeping busy and entertained with the Internet takes my mind off how very lonely I would be otherwise, which can lead to the worst kind of depression, which I’ve been prone to all my life. So I’m eternally grateful to the Internet, even as it drags me away from much more satisfying pastimes.

Sleepy-Eyed John Oswego ⋅ September 21, 2021

Right. I understand that. I need a lot of time to think but some days I just like mucking around online. I have some ideas on what I want to do and I see the internet creating barriers to achieving that. I'd rather it were there when I wanted it but when I don't I can turn it off. Of course that's bad for business with the attention merchants. :(

Oswego Sleepy-Eyed John ⋅ September 21, 2021

I can’t turn it off. I only walk away from it momentarily. Without the Internet, I delude myself into thinking the world apart from it is one vast and arid desert, which of course it most emphatically is not. 🤔

Sleepy-Eyed John Oswego ⋅ September 21, 2021

Ya. I get ya. It's hard to connect with real people, and that's if you even want to. No telling what sorts of madness there is out there. And online is comforting. No surprises, no awkwardness, no risk.

ConnieK September 21, 2021

I love books because they're easier on my eyes than computer reading. I find internet info takes a lot of resource tracking. Many times, when I click on a link the author claims verifies his/her claim often links to just another article by the same author.

Oswego ConnieK ⋅ September 21, 2021

I was reading the intro to a good book last night and realized how much I missed that experience. And I have hundreds of unread books. Tome to get started on them!! 🤔

mcbee September 23, 2021

I have the same problem, but I still read. When I discover I am scrolling the tablet too much, I realize I am in between books. I also have trouble finding books that engage me enough to keep reading them, I guess I can blame that on internet life as well. Still, I was always an avid reader, and I find much more enjoyment when I am reading a book that pulls me in. I think the isolation during retirement has been heightened with the pandemic, and I am relieved I have the option of things to do. I also stream movies/shows including lots of documentaries. I love true stories. I don't know if I miss being social, or would know how to engage in social banter at this point. All that being said, there is a deep loneliness in this lifestyle.

Oswego mcbee ⋅ September 23, 2021

I agree. I share very similar thoughts. The pandemic has highlighted for me the importance of connecting with my friends here at PB. The pandemic has seemed much less isolating because of this. And of course, there’s the Internet in general which is endlessly entertaining, enlightening, and distracting.

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