is the internet making me dumber or just lazier?

About a week ago, the Potato broke my alarm clock. It was a very old alarm clock–in fact, I’ve had it since my grandfather died in 1990–it belonged to him. It wasn’t anything special as far as alarm clocks go–just your garden variety digital that made a horrible beeping sound every morning. It’s the kind of thing that probably wasn’t built to last for fifteen years, and I’m kind of surprised that it did. But the Potato has been on some kind of mission to deconstruct it for several months, and he finally succeeded.

I ordered this, and today it came in the mail. And it got me to thinking about the role that the Internet plays in my life now, and how I depend on it for so many things. I spend an awful lot of time online for my job–the amount of email I send and receive in a single day is just astonishing (and I’m not talking about spam or ads, though I get those too). In recent years, I’ve found an apartment online, I relocated across the country on the basis of a job that I found online, hell, I even found one of my kids’ names online!

Yesterday, I had to do some background research on a guy who my boss is meeting with in a few weeks. Through some pointed googling, I found out practically everything about him except his shoe size, including his political giving history going back until 1995. In the days before public online databases, it would have taken me a really long time to find all this stuff out, but I was able to compile a fairly detailed portrait in just a few hours. In the same way, in the days, if I had broken my alarm clock, I would have had to go to an actual store and buy one.

These are (to me) the advantages of the Internet–greater access to information, the ability to shop for almost anything, communication with a nearly unlimited number of people on a nearly unlimited number of topics.

But there’s a dark side to my Internet use, too. The time I spend blogging when I should be cleaning my house. The virtually unlimited number of ways that I waste time online that I could be using more productively–playing with my kids, reading a book, hanging out with friends–whatever. I’m almost starting to feel like I’m addicted to the Internet. (The first step is admitting that you have a problem?) What about you? Are you an Internet addict?

On the more productive Internet-use side, check out the new button on my blog for “Since Sliced Bread“. It’s a cool contest going on that asks ordinary people to come up with ways to make the economy better. Check it out–you can win $100,000 if you submit the winning proposal. But you’ll have to beat me to do it!


November 3, 2005. meta.


  1. Comfort Addict replied:

    I don’t think that I’m a full-fledged addict but I do miss it if I don’t use it for a while. As for finding things out through searches, check out Zaba Search sometime. A work colleague told me about it. I finds a frightening amount of information about someone. I guess that we’re all open books now (unless we manage to hide a la Shockwave Rider).

  2. Suzanne replied:

    Addict here! In a choice between my computer (with high-speed Internet) or my television, there would be no contest.

    I used to watch a lot of TV, and, you know, read books. Now I surf blogs! Progress? Well, lack of TV watching is definitely a plus, but I should be reading more printed matter instead of characters on a glowing screen.

  3. Canadian Vegetable replied:

    I am certainly an Internet addict, but I think I’m going to capitalize on it by making my addiction my job.

    Either it will break the addiction or it will make me a dedicated hardworking person… either works! 😉

  4. Wontar replied:

    Definitely an addict. It does keep me away from the vacuuousness of television, but also keeps me away from books. I have several online businesses that take up my time, but an equal amount of time is spent on surfing for plain ol’ “stuff”. However, I’ve found a new place to live, a new career, and a whole new life thanks to the internet. That’s worthy of an addiction in my book.

  5. Rayne of Terror replied:

    I have an alarm clock that lights up before the alarm goes off and I loved it when I needed to get up using an alarm clock. Now I get up when the baby cries, so my alarm clock has become the lighting for the nursery. It can be turned down much lower than a night light so I have just enough light to find the nursing pillow and the baby, but not so much light that the baby thinks it’s time to get up.

  6. The Scarlett replied:

    Hey, found you via Blog Explosion. I like your stuff and I’ve put you on my Blogroll so that I can find you again!.

  7. landismom replied:

    CA, I’m amazed by that website. And I’m definitely buying that book! It’s a cyberpunk world…

  8. Desperate To Be a Housewife replied:

    Hello, my name is Desperate to be a Housewife and I am an internet addict.

    The very first thing I do when I jump out of bed at 5:30 is log on to the net and check my traffic stats on my website…then I check my Google Adsense.

    I also blog, read blogs, surf for blogs, search for blogs and, to date, have started three of my own…I play poker online at least once per day (not for money) and regularly read three forums.

    We should start a help group…IAA (Internet Addicts Annonymous)

  9. Jessica replied:

    Totally addicted – blogging has made it worse (or better, depending on how you look at it!) Since my hubby has been away so long, I spend lots more time online than before. He’s a little worried about whether I’ll be available to spend any time with him when he gets back!

    The biggest problem is that I’m also addicted to TV and I haven’t really given that up so I’ve been staying up wayyyyy too late these days. I may have to give up the bad CSIs (Miami and NY) when the hubby comes back!

  10. stranger replied:

    its not making you either – you are what you are and if the internet facilitates it, so be it. 🙂

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