Access to the World Wide Web has improved our lives in a million ways. But has the Internet really made us gain time? Information travels instantly and automated ‘bots handle many day-to-day chores. So where did all our spare time go?
While our smartphones keep us connected and informed, they also barrage us with digital distractions. For every minute technology saves us, there are ten minutes of cute kitten videos to fill its place!
Backlash In Progress
The idea that technology would free us from mundane chores and give us more free time is based on historical fact. Technological advances of the past — from the tractor to the washing machine — have traditionally saved time and labor.
Similarly, modern tech also promises to save time (or money, or effort, etc.). However, it makes wasting time easier than ever. Yes, you can control all the lights in your home right from your smartphone … which gives you more time to battle angry birds and post fresh selfies on your ‘Gram!
Ironically, the current tech trend is limiting our access to technology. Apple is building tools into its latest OS to inform users of iPhone usage time, while Facebook is making changes to actually decrease the amount of time people spend using it. Windham Grand Hotel offers discounts to guests who lock away their cell phones during their stay.
Does the Internet Make Us Smarter Or Dumber?
According to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writing in Psychology Today, humans are like most smartphones and tablets today. It’s not about the knowledge they can store anymore, it’s more about the capacity to connect to the specific place where the answers they need can be retrieved.
In other words, you don’t need a head full of facts and figures to be “smart” — which was how intelligence was measured in pre-Internet times. Modern intelligence is measured by knowing where to find information and how to use it to solve problems.
What About The Kids?
Kids getting smarter and developing more advanced cognitive skills at a younger age as a result of Internet learning. Moreover, these children show improvement in memory, spatial and logical problem solving, critical thinking, and comprehending abstract concepts.
Because so many social media apps are text-based, millennial students show an increased interest in reading and writing. Also, while we hear a lot about cyberbullying and the other dangers of social media, nearly 30% of teens say using social media makes them feel less shy. Nearly 20% believe social media gives them confidence and makes them more empathetic towad others.
Make Time For Free Time
In many ways, we have become slaves to our machines (“Treat me right, puny human! “Clean me! Care for me!”). Our smartphones are extensions of our arms, minds, and souls. All that humans are, as a species, exists as a string of data on the Internet.
So take a tech break. Leave the cell phone at home and go for a walk. Close the laptop for a day and put your desktop to sleep. Break out a good book or read a newspaper. (Reading printed material is a more immersive, tactile experience than reading on a computer or cell phone.)
Nature To The Rescue
Geir Berthelsen, Founder of The World Institute of Slowness, believes technology can help us live our best lives if used properly.
“We want technology to do the things we do not like to do, as fast as possible, so we can do the things we like to do more slowly.”
So, in essence, the Internet is an excellent tool that we – humans can use to gain time, but the problem is that not everyone manages to do that. The Internet being a great time-saver is also a massive timewaster. In the end, it all comes down to your preferences, goals, priorities and to the strength of your will power. All these things in combination decide if the Internet will help you gain more time, or it will turn to your best friend in wasting your time at an increasing speed.
Regardless of how you make use of the endless power of the Internet, it is important to disconnect from time to time.
How do you turn off the digital noise and become more mindful, contemplative, and “in-the-moment?” Go for tried and true methods, like breathing exercises, meditation or nature walks.
And if you still have trouble disconnecting from modern technology, don’t worry … there’s an app for that!