I announced the launch of my blog on an internet mailing list that I am a member of. One person wrote that what with blogs, MySpace and Facebook, she was feeling quite dizzy with it all. She recalled the days when it was much simpler and all you had to worry about were pen pals.
The internet has evolved into what is now being called Web 2.0, a term encompassing such things as blogs, social networking sites and wikis. In other words, there is a lot more user generated content on the web and you don’t need a PhD in HTML to be able to upload it.
Yesterday, I joined the blog revolution and I am quite excited about it. Naturally, like many others, I have MySpace and Facebook profiles (see the About Grant page for the links) although I sometimes question the value of these.
I have often heard Facebook described as an adult version of MySpace but I must admit that I have found it all a bit silly. Since signing up, I’ve been bitten by zombies, had sheep flung at me and been offered drinks that I can’t quite wrap my thirsty lips around. There seems to be an endless number of these Facebook applications that people keep sending me. It ends up being more about these games than actual networking and it’s easy to see why so many people are spending hours on Facebook. And it disturbs me when I score 100% on a quiz about the movies Grease and Grease 2 when I don’t even like these movies!
I do prefer MySpace since there seems to be more focus on one of my passions, music. So many musicians use MySpace to showcase their music. There is a great singer I have discovered purely via MySpace called Jake Hook (check out the beautiful Fireflies song). I have been able to preview songs from forthcoming albums by my favourite artists such as Annie Lennox, Eran James, Shelby Lynne and BWO. Another advantage is that it can bring you closer to the artist. I have had a couple of online interchanges with Jake. Canadian singer/songwriter Kyle Riabko (check out Ready For Reality, a song that has hit written all over it) has posted demos and asked for feedback from his fans.
But how much is too much? The Web 2.0 phenomenon means you could potentially spend more time than ever before chained to your computer. I am just as guilty of this. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I switch the computer on and invariably wonder why I am always running late for work. I get home at the end of a tiring day and on goes the computer with it only being switched off when I crawl into bed late into the night. And of course, I’m using a computer all day at work.
A while back, I instituted a computer free day where I wouldn’t go near or switch on the computer for one whole day a week. It actually worked really well and I found I was being a lot more productive and relaxed on that day. But you know how it is, before I knew it, the computer free day had disappeared since there was always something that needed a computer. What I am trying next is not to turn the computer on in the mornings and to only have the computer on for a couple of hours when I get home.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the internet. The amount of information is endless and I have met some truly amazing people all around the world. However, I do sometimes feel like I’m suffering from information overload and I do find it almost impossible to keep in touch with all my friends. There has to be an easier way to manage it all while balancing real life contacts and experiences.
And what did happen to the joy of letter writing to friends, family and pen pals? Taking the time to sit down and write about your life and then waiting a month or two for a reply. These days, communication is broken down into a series of soundbytes and abbreviated speak via email or SMS. No sooner do you write to someone, you’re hit with a reply and you feel the pressure in having to reply to that and so on and so on. Some people use emails and SMS in place of conversation. I much prefer to ring someone directly rather than engage in a back and forth electronic exchange.
I think it does come down to taking a stand and drawing a line in the sand. Computers and the internet can only control your life if you allow it. Define your boundaries and stick to them. Switch off the computer at 7pm, have dinner and then ring someone you haven’t spoken to in an age. That will be my goal tonight.