I found myself, only fifteen minutes into my seven hour coach journey, wishing that I had a phone capable of receiving emails. This hasn’t happened before; I don’t go for the trendy phones like Blackberrys. I have a nice and oldish Nokia that works just fine, puts up with me dropping it, flooding it with texts because I’m too lazy to delete them, and capable of making the occasional phone call. My desperate need to check my emails, even though I wasn’t expecting anything life-threatening, made me consider whether I was starting to get addicted to the internet and its communication platforms.
There are loads for us to pick from to communicate with both those we know and those we don’t. Facebook, Google, Hotmail, MySpace. There are too many to list. They can be great for keeping in contact with relatives and friends who live a distance away but they have their disadvantages. Lately I’ve begun to wonder: are they making us too connected?
I’m starting to think that we are. I’ve always mocked my housemates for checking their emails in the living room when their laptops are only in their bedrooms, but I’m guilty of waking up and checking my emails and Facebook before I make my first cup of tea, and I know that I’m not the only one who does this.
It’s making me wonder if we’re getting too much information pumped into our brains too often. Recent studies have shown that children have shorter attention spans and many blame the rise in online entertainment. And it’s not just children; not too long ago councils started to crack down on the use of the internet for personal use at work. Even in police stations workers were using the internet to talk to their friends. What’s up with this need for constant communication?
In a world where we’re already faced with enough deadlines, overtime and daily stress, surely we need some time to switch off? It can give you a buzz to find a new message, a sign that someone out there wants to contact you, but should we rely on these ‘instant messages’ to provide us with those good vibes? In a world where ‘chill time’ constitutes using the internet, how do we go about finding peace? Try and think about the last time you were truly on your own. I bet it’s hard. Time to yourself is essential for relaxing and getting your head around the things that life throws at you, particularly the difficult things. As much as we love the people around us, we need time to ourselves – and so they day. The phrase ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder ‘ didn’t come around for no reason.
For all it’s bad points in internet is useful, and I love being able to keep in touch with my friends who are scattered around the country and the world, but – as with everything- it’s essential to use it in moderation.
So this weekend I urge you to switch your phone off for a couple of hours, log out of Facebook and enjoy your own company for a bit. Go for a walk, get a cup of coffee, read a book. Anything. All those messages and emails can wait for a few hours.