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Dvorak: Unplug the Computer, Sell the TV, and Get a Life

I wonder if anyone will ever do a study of how technology has actually harmed the quality of life of the average person who has fully adopted the digital lifestyle.

This isn't to say that the word processor and the information Web site haven't benefited us all in lots of ways.

I'm talking about the fact that, with the computer in particular, you have to take the good with the bad — and it is starting to look mostly bad.

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By bad, I mean time-wasting. Seriously time-wasting.

Do we really need to send e-mail correspondence to the same person, sometimes three or four times in one day, just to say that you agree with something?

And of course, to even find this correspondence, we have to wade though an inbox full of e-mail junk.

People are spending hours on e-mail daily. HOURS!

Instead of being a great convenience, it is a great burden.

That's just the tip of the time-wasting iceberg. What about Web surfing or getting involved in threaded debates? There goes the day.

This gets worse with the new Web initiatives that give you more things to do and more ways to be distracted.

Hooray for Ajax, which lets us move things around on the screen like never before. We can spend hours customizing the page to suit our personal needs.

What personal needs? It's a Web page!

With news-ranking sites such as Digg.com you can not only waste your time becoming the editor, but you can also be a writer and blow off steam in the comments section.

And of course you do not want to look like an idiot with your comments, so you read the 5,000 other comments first to make sure that your point is original, just in case "Waterfall4327" notices that in comment #245 "Gerrymander988" said the exact same thing!

Power to the people, dude!

Want To Waste Even More Time?

Want to waste even more time? Become a blogger.

The mechanism is easy and it's cheap — free, in fact.

While you are blogging you can check other blogs and create a network of the banal. This is a great use of your time, no?

"Today I ate a cheese sandwich. No wait, it wasn't like the cheese sandwich that other blogger ate 10 years ago. Really, it wasn't."

And, of course, the bane of the blogosphere is still cat pictures.

For every picture of a human baby in the blogosphere, there are 10 pictures of cats. What does that tell you about the state of the world?

There is something especially pathetic about 30-year-old women treating these cats like babies and essentially bragging about this on their blogs.

Offshoots of this banality are new sites such as Twitter that allow you to simply say what you are doing at any time, day or night.

Are you reading a book? Then tell the world. Everyone wants to know, don't they?

Are you washing your hands? Cool. Everyone wants to know that, too. They really do.

And, yes, there is the other side to Twitter — the people who read the posts.

Usually they are the same people who make the posts; thus they get to double their time wastage with one service.

"See what others are saying about you!" Golly, like I need to know now!

I don't have to go into detail about the time-wasting ordeal of beating a computer or console game, do I? I mean, let's face it. Something is amiss when people actually get tendonitis from playing Wii games.

I can assure you that you do not get tendonitis in 15 minutes. It takes hours and hours of repetitive play.

When you are done, what have you accomplished? Zip, that's what.

"Second Life" is no better. I know grown men and women — adults! — who are into this as some form of therapy. Or so they say. Please!

And computer technologies are not the only time-killer. The entertainment business has loaded us up with time-wasting notions. The entire idea of a "home theater" is ludicrous.

And yes, I do have one, but is watching TV and DVD movies a good use of my time? Exactly how much drama, comedy, and History Channel programming about Hitler does one person watch in a lifetime?

It's as if we are all watching a double feature — two movies — each and every day of our lives. Only a movie reviewer should have to do that. Why is the public doing it?

There is no efficiency or a good use of your time in any of this.

Then again, you have to wonder what can be done.

I say start by tearing out the home theater, disconnecting the computer, and giving them both to charity. Good luck.