A while ago, I had an interesting conversation with a good friend about the pros and cons of the Internet. Later that day, instead of focusing on studying for my upcoming midterm, I was alarmed to find myself mindlessly scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed. This habit of mine, “newsfeed surfing,” had become a kind of reflex I had adopted, along with obsessively checking my e-mail, cell phone and text messages.
It was too much, all of this so-called “keeping in touch” and “connecting better with friends and family.” I realized that staying in touch was the last thing I had on my mind, yet it was the one activity that took up the most number of my precious waking hours each day. Ridiculously, it was also a primary source of stress for me. I had two wars to fight: one to protect my privacy against all the invisible terrors of cyberspace and one to maintain a clean slate when it came down to the things I did and said beyond a professional setting.
I am currently on my twelfth Facebook-deactivation extravaganza since I started using the site back in 2006. I keep telling myself that one of these days I’ll delete my account for good. But even now, as I write about the cons of Facebook with vengeance, I still can’t seem to go the path less-travelled and sacrifice the years of memories I’ve built in this cramped cyberspace. Sadly, as much as I’d hate to admit this, Facebook now owns a part of my identity.
Nowadays, I’m taking the time I would’ve spent Facebooking and spending it on much more useful Internet-related activities. Along the way, I realized that my friend was right: besides the obvious benefit of convenience and easy access to information, there are so many more pros that the Internet offers. The trick is to think outside the box and be resourceful!
Instead of watching funny videos on Youtube, for example, look up tour guide videos about a city you love so you are one step closer to fulfilling your dreams of travelling abroad. Instead of chit-chating in an online forum about the latest movies and TV shows, join one that discusses your MBTI personality. Instead of reading up on celebrity gossip, tap into the resources that give practical advice on academic success.
One of the most impressive sites that parallels Facebook is the amazing LinkedIn. While Facebook is mostly for fun, LinkedIn is the exact opposite. Instead of searching for and adding “friends,” you add “connections,” who are colleagues you know from a professional setting. Loosely based on the idea of “six degrees of separation,” the site provides information for people who desire to network with the right contacts in order to get the job, business or people opportunities they want.
Ultimately, I think it’s all about choices. It might not be the easiest thing to do when a “destination” full of the intrigue of gossip and promises of laughter is just a click away. At U of T, the Academic Success Centre actually offers lectures and workshops on the topic of effective Internet use, as well as on the more general areas of time-management and combating procrastination. Sign-up is online: while some workshops might be full, you are welcome to contact the Academic Success Centre with questions and concerns.
To conclude, let me share with you something from a site that I subscribe to. It is called The Daily Motivator and it’s only one of the many amazing sites I’ve recently discovered. Check it out:
Run away from discipline and it punishes you. Embrace discipline and it enables you to do magnificent things.
You can decide to discipline yourself or you will surely and eventually have discipline forced upon you. It is far better to choose it for yourself so you can fashion with it whatever you desire.
You already have the ability to act with self-discipline. Make use of that ability by making it a constant habit.
Discipline doesn’t cost you. It pays, over and over again. Discipline makes what you already have more valuable. And with discipline you can create much more new value.
Do what is in the best interest of everyone involved, even when it is not comfortable or easy at the moment. Long after the immediate inconvenience and discomfort are gone, you’ll be enjoying the rewards of choosing to discipline yourself.
— Ralph Marston (Read more here)
I hope your week after Reading Week isn’t terribly plagued with midterms and assignments! Take care!