The internet truly can be a dangerous thing. I’m not just talking about predators or scams, which obviously are very dangerous, but I am talking about the danger it brings to your productivity. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat at my computer to get some work done and ended up losing hours to the rabbit hole that is the internet. It’s almost funny how something that is such a source of useful information to help with our productivity can also be such a downfall.
It seems to always start off innocent enough. I will Google search something that is pertinent to whatever article I’m writing, and then I will see something pop up in the search that is slightly off topic that will spark not only my interest but a chain of events that usually ends with my searching for Adventure Time gifs. I’m almost convinced that Google does this, “Hey this is sort of what you were looking for but not quite and aren’t you interested enough to click the link” strategy on purpose just so that sites that have paid for it get more hits. I have seriously lost entire mornings just to Google by following one suggested link after another.
Speaking of gifs, they are another productivity killer. Even by themselves gifs can make me lose time like no other. I seriously have a gif problem. Those few second graphics interchange formats bring me so many smiles. From the hilarious to the “aw” worthy I can’t get enough of them. I use them for replies on forum posts, I post them on Twitter, and I post them as comments on Facebook statuses. Basically I have a fever, and the only prescription is more gifs.
The next trap laid out by the internet is social media. Countless times I’ve started writing and article only to get a paragraph or so in and think, “Let me check Facebook and Twitter real quick.” Of course we all know that you can’t just check social media “right quick”. So many posts to read, comment on, share, retweet not to mention now I have to go look for more gifs in order to properly respond to all the posts I’m seeing. It seriously is a bottomless pit that is almost impossible to get out of.
I also have to call out video streaming websites. Some mornings I will sit down with stern resolve to not let anything distract me and then it will happen… I will remember that one of my favorite shows has a new episode on Hulu. From there sometimes the episode will remind me of a movie I really like and I’ll end up on Netflix. Or, perhaps it was a night where several of my shows aired and I end up compelled to watch all of them. I have to admit I am so weak willed when it comes to “my stories”. And don’t even get me started on how much time I lose when I go on YouTube. That’s an even deeper rabbit hole than Google. Watch one video, get suggested others, then from there others, then I find a channel that I’ve never seen before that I enjoy so I watch all the videos it has to offer. It really is a never ending abyss of lost productivity.
The last trap the internet gives me are forums. I am a constant fixture on a couple of forums and I have caught myself refreshing the page just to see if there were any new posts. As soon as I see one I reply. I love engaging in discussions on a place like forums. Especially when they are well moderated forums where trolls are not welcome. Some of the best and most intriguing conversations I’ve ever had on the internet were on forums. Also, forum posts usually lead me back to gif searching yet again.
My point is that the internet really is a double edged blade. One the one side it gives us quick access to so much information that it makes productivity so easy… and yet on the other side it gives us quick access to so much trivial information that it is easy to lose all productivity. Will power is our only defense… and sadly I can’t always find it.