Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm not an addict

Last night I crawled into bed and read the news on my smartphone. AR, slumbering next to me, woke up for a second to the glow of the screen and mumbled, "Addict."

But here's the thing. I'm not an addict. In the vast majority of situations I'm using the internet to replace other types of reading, not augment them. Years ago, I read novels before going to sleep. That time was a buffer zone, connecting the hectic day I didn't want to end and the sleep I knew I needed. Years ago I read books on road trips. Now I read stories on my laptop, thanks to cellphone tethering, which lets me have internet access at 80 mph. True, now I check email at times I wouldn't have read before -- elevators, stoplights, the checkout line. But if I'm not inconveniencing anyone, if the only effect of that constant connection is that I'm prioritizing one type of activity (reading, communicating, viewing) over another (thinking, dreaming, imagining, whatever I used to do in my brain to fill activity voids), and if that new activity has its own benefits (I'm informed, I relate to my society, I get article ideas, so on), what's the big deal?

What's so wrong with that?

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