The internet wasted my life. I wish I'd spent all day watching TV instead
|Above: how all too many people waste their lives in this day and age.|
I have wasted so very much of my life on the internet. I mourn all the time I've spent wandering Wikipedia (absorbing useless information like the career of an actor I've never heard of or the complete history of the Holy Roman Empire), scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed (discovering what people I don't care about have had for lunch or occasionally glimpsing a mildly amusing meme), or watching forgettable YouTube video after forgettable YouTube video. It must have taken up months and months of my life by this point, and I'm only twenty years old.
The problem with the internet is that it has an over-abundance of media. And while some of this media is highly useful or entertaining, inevitably this minority is accompanied by a vast majority of not-so useful or entertaining things. So when we open our internet browsers and begin to "surf" (does anybody say this anymore?) we open ourselves up to bombardment by a great flood of bland, useless media which we spend much of our time wading through or getting distracted by before we can reach the good stuff.
I accepted the teaching of the older generations not to spend all day watching TV. So I rarely watch more than two episodes of a TV show per day, and I'll only watch films twice or thrice per week. I'll rarely ever watch one episode immediately after another; I'll stop to have a break.
However, I now regret obeying this teaching. Watching TV all day would be a far more fulfilling way of living my life than pointlessly wandering the web - which is what I have been doing instead. My tastes in television and film are quite good - think of all the great television shows and films I could fit into a twelve hour period! Innumerable pieces of televisual and cinematic art to gorge on - Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window for the first 112 minutes of the day, immediately followed by an episode of Black Mirror for me to ponder over, then a delightful comedy like The IT Crowd to cheer me up, followed by, why not, Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc., etc.
Instead, while I will watch TV at lunch and at dinner, much of the rest of my day will be filled with idle unplanned expeditions into the internet. While each expedition in itself won't last long, added together they all take up so much of my life for so little gain. It's simply bad time management.
The tragic thing is I'm not even the worst example of this. I've wasted much of my life already it is true, but at least, once I've finished learning about a particular classification of newt on Wikipedia, I still have hobbies, productive things, and entertainments to get busy with. In my 20 years of life, I've at least cobbled together enough self-control to produce this blog, or to learn the ukulele. There are some people who have no such hobbies, and fill their spare time with nothing but Facebook, or Twitter, or Reddit, etc., etc. God pity those people, who must be in the majority.
I genuinely believe that the web's addictive sensory bombardment of bland media is one of the great evils of our time. People's lives are being sucked away through computer screens. The first step is to recognise we have a problem, which more and more of us are doing. The next step is to tackle it, which is a more complex issue. Is government regulation the answer? Perhaps, but for the time being the answer is good old-fashioned self-restraint. Unfollow boring people and pages on Facebook, get a website blocker and block Wikipedia, and plan your day productively so that you don't feel the temptation of the black hole of the internet in your idle moments.
At the end of the day, Time is the only thing we have. And we don't have much of it in this world. Make sure you use it well.
Footnote: to clarify, the title of this article is a joke. While television and film are often preferable to the internet, other activities, like riding a bike, going to the theatre, or reading a book are valuable too. Everything should be done in moderation.