Sunday, October 5, 2008

Days of our Internet Lives

How many hours a day do I spend connected to the Internet? Honestly, I don't want to know. If I had to guess, it would be roughly 8, which is about as much as I sleep. Of course, I am an amazing multi-tasker, so I rarely let it interfere, and I am, in fact, on the Internet right now but still doing school work! That seems like a good thing, right? I definitely see no reason to stop, so why do I feel the urge to cut down a little? Let's attempt a little breakdown of my Internet day and see.

Wake up (roughly 10) until lunch (roughly 12): check my e-mail, visit my favorite cites, do a lot of Internet reading, and the occasional homework.

12-1 - Travelling to school on the bus, eating and listening to my MP3 player. Still terribly mediated, but no Internet involved.

1-3: Get to school way to early. Go online, check my email again, talk to a few friends on MSN. Possibly check facebook, but I don't do it much.

3(ish) - 6(ish) - I'm in class, but unlike most people I know, I'm rarely online.

6-7 - On the bus again, listening to my MP3. Occasionally attempt to read, but it makes me nauseous. I spend too long on buses.

7 - 7:30: Eat dinner

7:30-9:00 - Online again. I don't know exactly what I do on the world wide web anymore.

9:00-11:00 - Prime time TV. Watch a variety of shows. Again mediated, but most shows I watch with my family. Family night watching Heroes together is kind of nice in a strange way.

1100 - 12:00 - Online again, but this time mainly talking to my friends. They live all over the place now, and I'm too cheap for long distance bills, so MSN is really awesome.

12:00 - 1:00 - Read whatever book I'm reading for fun at the time.

1:00-10:00 - Sleep

I honestly don't know what to think of that breakdown I just created. It's an average weekday, so there are days that are different, but that's the general idea. You'll notice I didn't put any school work on their. I do most of it today (Sunday). Occasionally I multi task. You'll notice that I, like every other person in my generation, spend a possibly unhealthy amount of time on the Internet. But I don't think most people know why they're doing it, even I'm not sure.

I think, for me, there is one main reason. I structure my life around the Internet, from having to check my e-mail at least once a day, to using it for virtually all my school work, to needing at least an hour a day to IM my friends.

As Marshall McLuhan said , "The electric media are the telegraph, radio, films, telephone, computer and television, all of which have not only extended a single sense or function as the old mechanical media did--i.e., the wheel as an extension of the foot, clothing as an extension of the skin, the phonetic alphabet as an extension of the eye--but have enhanced and externalized our entire central nervous systems, thus transforming all aspects of our social and psychic existence." He wrote this before the Internet was even conceivable, and yet in that quote, he captured the essence of it. You can do everything on the Internet. As sad as it sounds, it is possible to live your entire life online. The extension of every single one of your senses is possible, but therein lies the danger of structuring your life around the world wide web. It can be depended upon so much that your physical self is no longer necessary.

It is important that the Internet remains simply a useful tool, and it doesn't become life. The fact that it can basically replace every other medium is exciting and frightening at once. As McLuhan also said, "The medium is the message." The medium of the Internet sends the message of inclusion, of connection, and most of all, of overwhelming possibility. The Internet has gone from total obscurity, to an important place in everyone's lives in a very short amount of time.

"When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the World Wide Web.... Now even my cat has its own page." ~Bill Clinton, 1996

Works Cited

Playboy, "The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan." Playboy Magazine March 1969. 28 Sep 2008 . <http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~gisle/links/mcluhan/pb.html>.

1 comment:

Marsha said...

I doubt I could function without the internet...Actually, I probably could but I wouldn't be happy. :) My house would probably be cleaner.