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Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Internet - Pain and Pleasure

I had what I thought was a bright idea for a New Year's Resolution. From January 1st, I'd cut down on the time I spend online. I love surfing the net and chatting via Twitter and Facebook, but it's so easy to lose track while you're staring at a screen.  If I radically reduced the time I spent online, my theory went, I'd get much more work done, see more of my family and there'd be more opportunity for gardening, cooking and beekeeping (yay!) and housework (boo!)

It worked. I rediscovered life away from my keyboard. In between wrangling my WIP, I became engrossed in my beekeeping studies once more, managed to perfect my home-made pasta and started thinking about what vegetables I'd grow in 2013. The neighbours and I can now recognise each other again - though this is of doubtful use at the moment as we're all snowed in, and can communicate only by way of smoke signals and Aldis lamps.

There had to be a downside, of course. Without the lure of browsing Thorne BeekeepingLakeland Limited or Bakerybits, I got a bit lax when it came to checking my emails. I have three accounts, two for business and one personal. I normally check them all at least three times a day, as computer genius OH is a stern taskmaster. His work PDA is hardly ever turned off because as he says, "If I don't deal with each query as it comes in, I'll have a hundred mails to sort out by the end of the day and a thousand by the end of the week." 

The first couple of weeks of January were uneventful, so I went on "digest" wherever I could, and let my checking schedule slip. Last weekend was chock-full of family business so that meant tons of cooking and taxi runs, so for the first time in years I never switched my computer on at all.

Imagine my surprise (she blushed, shuffling and avoiding OH's eyes) on the following Monday morning to discover a total of 400 messages lying in wait for me, spread over my three separate inboxes. FOUR HUNDRED MESSAGES - and that's NOT including the junk mail folder! 

It was very tempting to delete all but the most recent day's mails, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't bear to ignore anyone or miss out on anything but it took me nearly five hours to reduce the backlog, and new mails were coming in all the time.

By the time I'd finished, I could see what drove Susan Maushart to the desperate measures of The Winter of Our Disconnect.That's five hours of my life I'll never see again, but what else can I do? I love being connected, but it's like holding a tiger by the ears. I don't want to do it, but I can't stop. The internet is a brilliant invention and there are worse problems than mine, as a study by ICMPA revealed. At least I can make a positive decision to reduce the burden on other people by adding an amendment to my initial New Year's resolution. From now on I'm going to think before I mail, and make sure every message I send is a wanted message. 

Who else is going to make it their resolution, too?