Is the Internet good or bad for you?

I wrote this reply to Kent Bottles’ post on whether the Internet is good or bad for you.

That’s quite a mindful—my email just beeped and my MP3 died, so I am going to put this on hold for a second.

Where were we?  A few observations if I may.  Instead of concluding we have difficulty being in the moment, since the way we’ve lived since the infusion of all digital all the time, perhaps the meaning of being in the moment has changed.  Were there similar discussions at the invention of the phone, the radio, the turntable, and the television?  Goodness knows did not we go through many of the same changes—listening to the radio while doing homework, watching TV while conversing with family?

On the issue of multi-tasking, studies suggest we are able to function less effectively while being mutli.  Does that not depend somewhat on the nature of the task?  Let us consider the question, function less at what.  If it has to do with a task of doing ones taxes while checking email and speaking on the phone; that may be true.  If the same functions are considered in light of someone who hates doing their taxes, and has no pressing deadline, no hard stop, perhaps the diversions make the onerous task seem a little less so.

Perhaps there are certain tasks we were unable to do before the internet engulfed our approach to our waking hours.  Perhaps, there are tasks made easier by multi-tasking.  I can be in a group discussion on Google Wave, giving assignments.  The group can be updating and discussing a presentation stored in a cloud—all in real-time.  While downloading a .rar file of a chapter of an audio book for a key deliverable, instead of having to rush to Borders and read it, I may have Pandora running in the background, and may get a text message from someone in the group about a comment they did not wish to share with the group.

That same group can be assigned individual tasks to be completed within the next twenty-four hours.  Members will be assigned to “post” their deliverables to the group at various times for individual comment, and a final meeting invite will be sent by the last person to finish their task.  Pretty efficient.  Certainly better than the days when we felt fortunate simply to be able to FedEx a draft of the deliverables to each of the members, some of whom are overseas, and wait 48 hours to view their feedback.

Perhaps the relevancy of good versus bad internet depends more on what you are trying to do.  Some people who have self-diagnosed ADHD—I barely have time to focus on having AD, let alone all four letters—may find this a blessing.  I have the attention span of a half-life of a fruit fly.  I bore easily, and on occasion bore others easily.  Stuck in this digital cornucopia, I am able to function at a higher level.

As I write this, I have eleven browser windows open, am synching my cell phone, downloading music on LimeWire, am working on a new blog post—not this one, and writing the first two chapters of my book on leadership.  This approach relaxes me.  If I had to do just one of those knowing I could not do something else until the first was complete, I’d be in therapy.

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

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