The internet.

Love it, hate it. There you have it: sitting in your lap or in your palm or on your desk staring back at you, daring to do something productive with your life.

I guess the question I want to pose in your minds is whether the internet is generally good to be featured on as much as you can or whether it is a total farce. My mind is made up: I’ve been working to make the internet low priority on my personal schedule because I feel that, while it is good for networking, it leaves you feeling empty.

Allow me to explain with a food analogy. Bubblegum is a wonder of the modern, civilized world. Give me some gum and I will chew and chew and chew. My tongue is happy, but my stomach is getting gyped. “Where’s the beef?” it demands while my tongue just keeps telling me that taste is enough to make me full.

Well, taste isn’t enough. My stomach protests. In the same way, the internet is awesome for tasting a new experience or  learning about a new skill (and all the artists said, amen!), but like gum, it doesn’t last.

After enjoying a minty-fresh wad of gum, I might feel the need to grab a bite. Similarly, the internet may inspire you to dream big, try new things and change your day-to-day schedule to include new activities. At the same time, one wonders how prominently the internet should feature in that daily schedule of theirs. Is the internet worth the time? How much time should I spend?

How about a new rule of thumb: only be on the internet as much as you have to. First, I’ll suggest what that entails. Then, I’ll go over why you need to curb your time online.

The Master Plan

So how do you plan your internet usage without losing your mind? Don’t go throw your laptop in the trash! Think of what you glean from the internet. There are a few things to consider:

The internet is a tool, meant to assist you, not overtake you. As far as helpful information goes, go ahead and look up that recipe for roasted brussels sprouts, because you hit upon a bargain at the grocery store don’t know what to do with the mini-cabbages going bad on your counter. That is a perfectly valid use for the internet and you will thank yourself later on at suppertime.

While you’re at it, watch a lecture on web design or geometry. Unless you’re a mathmagician, data-crunching demigod, you probably weren’t born with all the info you’re going to need to do your job if you’re in the workforce and your school if you’re a student. In this case, using the internet actually boosts your productivity. Score!

As for personal use, I don’t expect you or anyone else to swear off the internet or social media. The trick is to plan that time so you don’t get sucked into a vortex. Also, if you just love being plugged in, think of creative ways to meld your personal computer time with some unplugged social time. Play a video game with your friend, watch a favorite TV show with your family in the afternoon or video call your grandma.

The goal in curbing your time is increased control of your personal schedule. Keep that in mind as you move forward.

The Big Picture

So, why curb your usage in the first place? Two words: opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost basically means that you only live once. It can be applied to your finances (that $1 could be spent on a candy bar, a bubble wand or saved to buy a car in the future), diet (do you eat a doughnut or cereal for breakfast) and especially time. Opportunity cost is the belief that time spent surfing the web could be used on other things, like mowing the lawn, painting, doing school, volunteering or hanging with friends and family.

BTW, your stomach might appreciate a square meal or two in between these activities as well.

Opportunity cost also why I usually choose to write very little in my posts. I don’t expect every visitor to my website to spend more than a few paragraphs on a thought or idea before they can move on with their lives. Also, the more visual content I post, the more visitors to my site can see that I value quality (in this case, my brand/product) over quantity (a bunch of words trumping up a work).

Not to mention, so much of our daily work-related and scholastic activities in most countries revolve around sitting and poking around on a screen.

So the next time you turn on social media, think of your purpose, then consider the opportunity cost of your time and, finally, schedule your usage as much as you can.

October 3, 2017

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