Information

Are We Spending Too Much Time Online?

Introduction

I have written a couple of pretty technical articles lately and I want to get back to something a bit less, techy I suppose. I wanted to talk about something this time that has a lot to do with where we spend most of our time, the web. I am trying to wonder if we have been spending more time on an actual electronic device, or the Internet. In other words, would we be spending so much time attached to our devices if they were not connected to the Internet? I guess this depends on whether or not there is something that currently has our attention that does not need a connection to the Internet. Perhaps that is the case, I mean it was several years ago. Many, many years ago we were able to be entertained without the constant need to be online. Today is so different now and that has been a central theme of this website is how society has changed so much. Could we even last one day without the Internet. Speaking for myself as a web developer, I live off the ‘net. I do want to delve some more into why we are so attached and connected all of the time. I really wonder if it has to do with either technology has changed, or people, or both. Let us explore this concept in this article.

Why is the Internet So Addicting?

Good question, why are we always online all of the time? What is the Internet really to us? As I have stated many times before, the Internet is really just a place for information. I supposed the human psyche is one that is constantly wondering and intrigued. We are a curious bunch and want to know more about the world around us. We have something inside us that makes us want to find answers to life’s questions. Either we are not satisfied with what we already know or we second-guess ourselves because everything is always changing. Whatever changes, makes us go out and find the answer because what worked last time, may not work again this time. So this might be the work of obsolescence and ever-fleeting information. Meaning, information can have a very short shelf-life because its relevance can be so short. This requires us to hunt down current and accurate information so that we can determine if something is right or not. That is an interesting concept, the idea that fleeting information makes us feel that we might not know as much as we think that we do. How could we possibly know a lot if we have to keep updating ourselves. When you think about this, our daily informational needs are quite monumental. Either that, or we are just going online to be entertained. We do need some downtime every now and then after all. In keeping with the constant need to stay online, are we really pushing ourselves to gain information faster and faster?

Are We Going Too Fast?

Are we? Are we really going too fast? Have we become so impatient as a society as a whole that we just straight up demand to be connected all of the time? I know that it is impossible to return to the slow days before the Internet hit. Every generation that enters society enters a world that is ever so connected than ever. Only the older generations can appreciate what we used to have, because they lived during those times. That is something that poses a challenge for the newer generations to understand. Although, no one controls when they enter the world. We enter the world whenever we enter it. We possibly and simply have no control over when it happens. Even those who study the history of the past still cannot comprehend what it was like back then. You just had to be there and live during that time. There is nothing really that can be done about it. Either you lived during that time, or you did not. 

I want to bring up how intertwined our lives have become because of the Internet. I linked to previous article showing how we can now run our lives through our phones. We are getting to the point where almost our entire lives can be handled through our phones. In some weird way, if you really think about it, our phones are like a clone of ourselves. Our phones have everything about who we are in them. How is that possible? How did our phones become a reflection of ourselves? I will discuss this further in the following sections. When I ask if we are going to fast, I mean do we realize how much information is being consumed at such high rates. In another of my articles, I talk about how we reached a point of consuming so much video. We are definitely going too fast because keeping us connected all of the time is very hard. We are hitting critical mass with our demand to consume even more and more information. In fact, I am just trying to remember the last time I saw someone with some kind of printed material. A book, newspaper, a magazine, something like that. The only time that I might see someone with printed material might be in a bookstore, library, or coffee shop. Even then, it is getting rarer by the day.

Are We Too Demanding and Impatient for Faster Speeds?

Sounds like we just want to go faster and faster every single day. Back then, when each person just had one computer, now people have many connected devices. We might have a computer, a tablet, a phone, and more. No longer is it about having a device that can stream video without buffering, but it is more about keeping so many simultaneous devices all connected at once. Wi-Fi was a great idea because we can be connected AND mobile at the same time. This is how we became so demanding of consuming information at ever faster speeds. It is one thing to just be stationary at a desktop computer and be connected. In that situation, we can step away and be offline before going back and connecting again. Things have changed since then. Now we step away from a stationary connect device and then we immediately go to our phones. Not a single second passes where we are not connected. I believe that is where the demand and impatience for higher informational needs comes in. This phenomenon is not due to a single factor, like connectedness or mobility, but rather the combination of both. Much like how things have to fall into alignment in order for something to happen, this constant need to be connected all of the time is the same idea. Since we are always connected, we need faster speeds to give us our informational fix. On that subject, we produce content at the same rate we are consuming it. Is that an issue? Let us explore that in the next section.

Are We Feeding the Internet Too Much Information?

I talked about information consumption a lot so far, let us move on to information production. Here is an article that wrote about the cycle of information consumption and information production. We feed the Internet when we engage in production since this is when we upload something online for someone to consume. This could be something as simple as just some words on how our day went, a picture or two, or even a video. Why do we do this? Simple, as humans we live everyday out there. We observe things and we have opinions. When we see something interesting, the first thing that we want to do is share it. Sharing something that you just saw is an act of information production. Everyone is different. Some people share their stuff because it is interesting and they want to keep track of what they saw. Others want to go viral and gain some attention, in hopes of becoming popular. This is nothing new. We all have lived our lives basically selling ourselves to gain new opportunities. We go out there and try to convince people that we are selling something that they might want. Again, nothing new. Just now we have a platform to broadcast ourselves out there.

Will We Be Able to Handle Future Informational Needs?

Something that I believe that I have not mentioned before is that there is an important factor to consider on whether or not we can handle the ever growing need for people to access information, the ever-growing population. Yes, we can access information faster now that we have faster speeds but we also have a lot more people accessing this information than when the Internet first started. This creates a challenge on how we are able to provide information for an ever expanding populace. Due to the amount of people trying to access the Internet, we had an issue that has impacted people’s ability to go online.

This issue is called net neutrality, and it is something that is similar to consumer protection. Consumer protection attempts to prevent people from being “overcharged” for services. Really, people should be aware of what they are purchasing and know exactly what it does. Net neutrality tries to accomplish the same thing with making access to the Internet equal for everyone. This is controversial topic about egalitarianism, which wants to make everything in society equal for everyone. Without getting into too much of the nitty gritty, basically these concepts attempt to remove any advantage some people have over others. Also, they attempt to oversimplify the products and services that we purchase, which is bad when we should really know the details of what we are buying. 

Seems unfair that everyone should have access to the same things in life. You work hard, you earn what you work for. Work hard and live a nice life. No one should take that away from you. As many have said, “equality is equal suffering”. Giving “free” Internet access to all is not really free. Someone has to pay for the Internet and it is only free for those who do not chip in. This is why net neutrality and egalitarianism are interesting concepts but both sides constantly quarrel over who is right and who is wrong. I just know that if people want more things in their life, then they need to work harder for it. Earning things in life gives us a sense of worth and accomplishment. People do not respect what is just given rather than earned. We humans are capable of doing amazing things. Show and prove to people that you have earned what you want in life and not expect to just have it handed to you. How can you possibly provide for yourself if you expect handouts? I told you that this topic is controversial but it relates to Internet access so here we are.

What Will Happen If We Ever Stop Going Online and Go Off-line?

Time to calm down the controversy some. This idea that the Internet could simply just go away and we revert back to life before the web is very hard to fathom. The reason why is because of how connected everything in our lives has become. Our homes, our cars, our everything are all connected to our phones. The fact that we can control anything through our phones means that we cannot go back. Life can only go forward so to think that we can just go offline is, for the lack of a better phrase, absurd. I enjoy sharing my opinions and being light-hearted at times. We are here to think about our lives beyond the Internet. The day to day grind is something that happens for us to get through life. I want us to look beyond that. That has been a central theme of this website. That is why some topics here raise some eyebrows but we need to think deeply about what is really going on with the web. I am not just talking about watching some videos or movies online. That is just skimming the surface. I am discussing topics that are much more important than that. Long story short, the robots are here to stay.

Summary

This has been a more thought-provoking, “controversial” article if you will. Really depends on you and if you are willing to engage in topics that have their two sides. Every single topic does. Every you are for something or against it. All that really matters is that you can logically debate and “convince” others on your point of view. I say “convince” because many, including myself, can be quite set in their line of thinking. I mean, we all have lived life long enough to know why we take a certain stance on an issue. Unless something drastic happens, more likely than not, we will still continue to believe whatever it is that we believe. The reason why we reached this point is because we constantly consume and produce information for others at an alarming rate. This caused society to demand more of the Internet and then net neutrality entered. Certain events occur as the result of other events happening is just society trying to react to what is going on. This is why we have become so reactive over preventive because the Internet is really fast and never stops. We wake up the next day and something new is going on. Everyday is a new adventure when it constantly changes.

Tuan

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