This is my 3002nd post since John's World/Incoming shifted to Blogger (4/6/2006). That's right at 2 posts per day for those 4+ years.
To say I have enjoyed it is self-evident. I must have done, because since it doesn't doesn't generate income (not even Google ads), this activity is clearly a hobby. But more and more it seems to me it is a problem. Aside from the time absorbed, there is the rising concern too much screen-time is changing who we are, or can be an addiction.
The problem with the addiction metaphor, which as these quotes show is easy to indulge in, is that it presents the normal as abnormal and hence makes it easy for us to distance ourselves from our own behavior and its consequences. By dismissing talk of "Internet addiction" as rhetorical overkill, which it is, we also avoid undertaking an honest examination of how deeply our media devices have been woven into our lives and how they are shaping those lives in far-reaching ways, for better and for worse. In the course of just a decade, we have become profoundly dependent on a new and increasingly pervasive technology.To be fair, I can point to some benefits that spill over into my writing and speaking. Posting is essentially my research effort to surface material to present, assemble facts to support my assertions, and exposure to ideas I likely would not have encountered otherwise.
There's nothing unusual about this. We routinely become dependent on popular, useful technologies. If people were required to live without their cars or their indoor plumbing for a day, many of them would probably resort to the language of addiction to describe their predicament. I know that, after a few hours, I'd be seriously jonesing for that toilet. What's important is to be able to see what's happening as we adapt to a new technology - and the problem with the addiction metaphor is that it makes it too easy to avert our eyes.
The addiction metaphor also distorts the nature of technological change by suggesting that our use of a technology stems from a purely personal choice - like the choice to smoke or to drink. An inability to control that choice becomes, in this view, simply a personal failing. But while it's true that, in the end, we're all responsible for how we spend our time, it's an oversimplification to argue that we're free "to choose" whether and how we use computers and cell phones, as if social norms, job expectations, familial responsibilities, and other external pressures had nothing to do with it. The deeper a technology is woven into the patterns of everyday life, the less choice we have about whether and how we use that technology.
When it comes to the digital networks that now surround us, the fact is that most us can't just GTFO, even if we wanted to. The sooner we move beyond the addiction metaphor, the sooner we'll be able to see, with some clarity and honesty, the extent and implications of our dependency on our networked computing and media devices. What happens to the human self as it comes to experience more and more of the world, and of life, through the mediation of the screen? [More]
But blogging has crowded out other good things in my life, and isolated me from activities that could reduce stress and boost satisfaction, I now suspect. Oddly, over the last few months I have watched several bloggers "burn out" - so I am wondering if this 4-5 year mark is some kind of threshold.
So I am trying to take a slightly more objective view of this peculiar activity, and how I can make it better fit into my life, and still provide something others find useful. Nothing may change, but much could.