Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Network Conundrum

It’s three in the morning, your dry eyes straining as you attempt to digest the contents of your physics book. You glance through 2 lines of text without taking in a single word. Then your eyes steal a peek to the bright computer screen beside you and you give in to your impulse to click the inbox button on my hotmail page for what would seem to be the 6th time in the past 5 minutes to check for new Facebook notifications. Sound familiar? Then you, like many others before you, are suffering from chronic internet addiction.

Since its introduction, the internet catapulted itself from the pack and emerged as a growing titan of the communication mediums. We now utilize the internet in uncountable ways. No longer do we follow the old traditional way of searching through books when we can just type whatever it is we are looking for on Google, forcing libraries (such as our own) to install computers just so the students continue to visit them.

Sure, it’s fast and easy to plough through the plethora of information on the internet to find what you want, copy and paste it onto your work to be handed in. Maybe you’re hardworking and you might even edit it a bit to make it look original? Mix and match a few articles and voila, your very own assignment! Don’t laugh, it’s a tacit law. But stop and ponder: is this beneficial in the long run?

Social networking is also another entity of the cyber world held high and almost worshipped by many surfers of the web. With sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter gaining increasing popularity each day, social networking has found its way deep into our lives. If you are an online socialite, chances are you have an account in at least 2 of the said social sites. Are they really just helping you to keep in touch with friends or are they affecting your brain in an adverse manner?
Connection to the net and continually going through information actually renders us less capable of deep thinking. You see, facing the ceaseless torrents of messages, pictures, music, videos, links, Friendster reminders, Facebook notifications, tweets, blog entries, RSS feeds and other forms of distractions while working in front of a computer alters the way our brain works.

We become faster in scanning through information and making fast decisions. We breeze through, pick out the facts and move on, rarely stopping to interpret or contemplate. Reading a book is much more different. Through books we focus and take in word by word and at the same time, letting the flow of texts dig deep into our minds and feelings. Books also guide us to focus all our concentration on one topic at a time instead of the never-ending bombardment of information on the net. More information does not necessarily mean more knowledge when our poor brains are being stuffed like a Christmas turkey.

Addiction to the internet becomes another worry. Much too many of us are compulsive visitors to social networks. I personally admit to my feeble will power to resist spending hours updating my Facebook. It’s nice to be constantly connected to your peers but if the mere thought of spending a day without Facebook (or Twitter) sends a chill down your spine and that a week without them will leave you in cold sweat and the feeling of despair, then I recommend its time you see a doctor.
OR, you could just muster up the will power to stay away from the computer as long as you can. Don’t worry, do it in phases. See how long you can stay away from your inbox and lengthen the time gradually.

It’s not like you’re isolating yourself from civilization just because you don’t go on Facebook. And I can assure you that you are not a social outcast just because you don’t reply your messages. And no, your life won’t end if you don’t tweet for 24 hours.

Let’s face it, the internet distracts us, more than we realize. It causes us to lose sleep. Remember the time you were updating your Facebook in the wee hours of the morning on a school night? Maybe that’s why you experienced the state of suspended consciousness (read: sleep) in class the following day.

So the next time you’re about to announce/share with the whole world on Facebook/Twitter the GROUND-BREAKING news that you found a dead cockroach in your room or that you are going to have escargots for dinner, perhaps consider lying down and reading a book instead. Your brain could do with some imagination and creativity!

*The writer of this article apologizes to any and all Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Blogger, etc fanatics and/or addicts out there if they feel offended. All opinions are clearly his own and do not in any way attempt to shun, ridicule or put-down any parties. Besides, he probably spends more time on Twitter than you do breathing =)