Friday, 17 February 2012


It might seem contradictory to talk about internet fatigue on an internet blog, but bear with me.

I grew up with the Internet. I was born in 85' and was awarded what I see now as a massive advantage in the form of having computers in 90's Serbia.  Myself and a select group of friends enjoyed all the benefits this entailed. We played games at home when the arcade was the closest thing to a game most kids could have. We listened to music, we watched sad, pixelized gif porn, we wrote in Microsoft Word and even printed out the stuff we wrote.

Then, off course, came the internet. 

I will not bore you with descriptions of my elated exploration of this new world. What I will do is immediately draw a parallel with pagers and cell phones. The staggering ability to communicate with someone almost instantaneously, to carry a phone in your pocket and be able to call from wherever you might be was something similar to what later came with services such as internet chat. I caught myself at the ripe age of 13 talking to a girl from Australia, via internet chat. This blew my mind at the time: there I was, communicating with someone halfway across the world, in real time. Considering I spent a large chunk of my life sending actual mail to my childhood friend in Barcelona, this was revolutionary.

Now fast forward 13 years. Social networks, Skype, blogs. The endless array of possibilities has flourished with breathtaking speed. The discussion here is not about whether or not these services benefit humanity - off course they do. Just like cell phones, television and radio before it, these are advances in technology that bring untold progress to the world. But just like these other forms of media, there are negative side effects to consider.

And this is how we get to the headline: internet fatigue. As someone who was weaned on the internet from a young age, I've found it instinctual to embrace any form of internet entertainment and communication without inhibition. A new social network? Bring it on. Another way to view videos and listen to music? Give it here. I've found apologists of internet abstinence to be narrow minded and infantile - very similar to the hippie ideas of not watching TV or even listening to radio.

What I came to realize in time is that the internet, just like any other kind of media, is similar to food - you need it, but you must be careful of what and how much you eat. While this analogy might seem a bit off - you will not die without the internet, while you most certainly will die without food - it is not fully delusional. Think about it. Man is a social animal, and one must socialize in some way in order to survive. The internet is a relatively new way of communicating, but so was TV or radio. While TV and radio might have been one way, they are still a form of communication. People that don't use the internet but still "survive" by communicating traditionally come across as an old tribe living on healthy meat from hunting and vegetables they harvested. The people that do use modern media such as the internet would be us - living on processed food but having a wide choice of foods around us, enjoying the luxury of not having to hunt. The same rules that apply to a healthy diet can apply to the internet: moderation, some selection in what you consume, restraint and a healthy dose of exercise.

This analogy has gotten old, but it only served to outline my attitude at the moment: I suffer from internet fatigue.

It could be I'm getting older. It could be my current surplus of free time. It could be none of these things. But the fact remains I am beginning to drown  in the flood of information I willingly inject into myself every day. Social networks have become the death of normal inter-human relations and have spawned a new social dynamic that I find loathsome and depressing, even though I understand it and can manage fine within its odd rules. The tide of content that surrounds us, such as pictures and videos, is becoming increasingly trivial and diluted, to the point of using all usefulness.

The mental junk food the internet feeds me has evolved unto me the addict paradox of a fat man: I eat the junk because I need it but I hate myself for doing it. Your day becomes engrossed with endless pictures, videos or even text that have no concrete purpose and productive value. They are funny, for example, but even funny has but small purpose in the whole day. Should spend the whole day getting cheep thrills or can I use it as a temporary uplift before going on with the rest of my day?

Here lies the key: using it for what its supposed to be used for. Use it all, but use it well. Social network are to help you socialize - if you're not, then you're doing something wrong. Funny pictures, videos or text? Great, as long as they serve their purpose as a brief respite and entertainment in your day. This is an iterative process for me. I am still figuring out new ways to deal with the fact I need the internet but I am getting more and more tired of it as it drains me of time and energy.

I despise cliched "change-your-life-in-5-steps" methods of altering your behavioral pattens, but I prefer even those to a lack of action. My steady retreat from the internet will be just that - a step backwards that will allow me to approach it with a more wizened outlook, a chance to re-enter the internet world with a careful eye on what I consume.

This is not farewell to Facebook, 9gag, Youtube or any of those. This is but a small kiss on the mouth and a plea to "take it slow".


  1. It was nice to relive the excitement of the first use of the today-normal technology through your writing. Makes me feel a tad older than I should though :)

    After reading the post, it got me thinking about whether you can actually define the limits of how to use Facebook for socializing. Think about it - how do you define whether you'll comment this much, or respond to this or that many posts, or look this often at other people's profiles?

    I have one idea. The moment we're not sharing something of value on Facebook (whether a link to some bit of profound wisdom or a stupid clip of cats) directed at each other PERSONALLY, then I think we're wasting time. If YOU're sending ME a stupid clip, then we have our context. If we're skimming the Facebook timeline, waiting for someone we might not even know to post something of value, then there's a problem. Of course, if we're only sending stupid links to each other, that's a whole new problem, though a lesser one, I guess :) I know it's probably a lot more complicated than this, but maybe this is a good place to start.

    Also, weren't you not-so-eager on Facebook in the beginning? :P

  2. To answer, yes, I loathed Facebook when I first came there fresh of Myspace to find a complete lack of individuality and then it informed me that my sister was, in fact, my sister. I deleted it for a while only to realize the futility of doing that.

    For me, the limitations are relatively simple - think of it as a phone. You use your phone to SMS people you like, and call them. But if you spend more than half the day on the phone, it is no longer used for simple socialization - its a problem.

    Next time you check Facebook, think if you've checked your phone that many times in a day, and if the answer is no - chill with the Facebook.