Screen sucking: Are you guilty?

February 24, 2006 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Seems that all those electronic devices that are supposed to help us get work done faster aren’t necessarily helping. (Are we surprised?)

According to an article in the January 16, 2006, issue of Time magazine, electronic devices might help us with multi-tasking, but they also do a fair amount to inhibit productivity. Our gadgets reduce concentration, increase the number of distractions in our lives, and produce symptoms in many people that are akin to those associated with Attention Deficit Disorder.

One aspect of this article that particularly interested me was a sidebar entitled “A Multitasker’s Glossary,” which discussed several new terms brought on by the information age and the behaviors associated with it. One such term:

screen sucking: Wasting time online long after you have finished what you signed on to do. Example: “I’d be done with that job if I hadn’t got caught up screen sucking.”

I don’t know about you, but I have a huge problem with screen sucking. I don’t know exactly why this is, but for some reason, the wide-open spaces of the internet have a magnetic power that is hard to resist. I often kill half an hour or an hour at a time surfing the internet and doing absolutely nothing worthwhile—and I often don’t even realize I’m doing it.

Apparently, I’m not the only one. The same Time article references several studies illustrating the compulsive nature of technology use. According to one such study by an information technology research firm in New York City, 55% of those surveyed said they open email right away after it arrives—regardless of how many other things they might have on their plate at the same time.

In the words of Jonathan Spira, CEO and chief analyst at Basex, which conducted the study: “We can’t control ourselves when it comes to limiting technological intrusions.”

Frankly, this bothers me. It might be excessive to refer to compulsive internet usage as a full-blown addiction, but some of these trends are a bit disturbing. I don’t like the fact that the internet has such a gripping effect on the human mind—mine in particular.

As a way of curbing the screen-sucking tendency in my own life, I decided at the beginning of January to make a policy for myself that I wouldn’t get online without making a list beforehand of exactly what sites I was going to visit and what I was going to do on those sites—and then not go anywhere or do anything beyond my list.

My self-imposed guideline was only half-hearted in the beginning, and I haven’t really stuck to it. However, now that I’ve been mulling over the issue a little more in writing this post, I’m thinking it’s in my best interest to make my policy a bit more firm. I’d rather me control the computer than it control me.

Opinions? Is screen sucking an issue for you? Do you feel the need to do anything about it?

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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