Finally some travelling again! Home lent out to good friends, and on the road for a bit of time…hurray!
What I really love about travelling is that you come to see different things, leave your every-day life and surroundings behind you and get open to see everything from a different angle. For me that’s like a retreat from common life, like being raised to a kind of meta-level where you can see life more clearly and understand better what is important, what already goes right and what could yet be improved.
I belief everybody is different in how to find this kind of insights and quality time, but for Woodpecker it is definitely travelling. Thus I am willing to quite un-frugally invest quite some fraction of household budget to it (rest of the family luckily agrees on that).
And a first insight already pours in:
After not having accessed the internet for 8 days, partly because I was too lazy, partly because there was no WIFI access or too expensive, I am coming to the conclusion that back at home I spend way too much of my spare time on the computer and in the internet! I read way too much upsetting and ultimately unimportant news; I sometimes spent too much time in discussions that simply lead nowhere; I too often check on stock quotes that rather reflect hectic markets than additional fundamental news and I did too much of searching information that I actually not really need for having a good day.
To put it right:
I think the internet is a fantastic medium, it connects people, it provides information and allows to exchange with people thinking like you around the whole globe, like in this or in other great blogs, and finally it’s cheap! That’s great! And I really am happy to live in a time where I can benefit from that.
But then there is the downside:
The internet just is vast.
You know it – you can spend hours and hours looking for this and that, you are tempted to consult it on every little question that arises.
And you find way too much useless news and information.
Reading them might give you a feeling of being constantly informed in an ever faster rotating world.
But the truth is:
There is not as much happening out there as the internet makes you think. Not so much world-moving history is made each day as all the news chatter does suggest. If you tune out for a while actually you will not miss that much if anything at all.
I found that out the last days:
Each day when I went to the little shop at the camp site to buy bread I glance at the headline of the German and English newspapers that are sold there, and in the end it’s always the same:
Some new (probably the 100th) rumors on the Euro, a tiny scandal, some experts claiming to have found the truth to economic salvation or something else, some weather event somewhere in the world and some more or less surprising sports news.
That’s more or less it.
Most of the millions of news and “breaking news” articles you will find on the internet or TV are just a repetition or permutation of ultimately unimportant stuff.
My definition of important would be:
Will you or somebody else still remember this particular piece of news in ONE year? Check it, 99% of what “news” you read will not fall into this category.
It occurred to me than instead of each day checking so many online-newspapers, stock market quotes, online boards, involving into discussions that lead nowhere, it might provide more happiness just to have a glance at the headline at the grocery and to follow a very limited and well-chosen set of really interesting opinions, blogs, discussions or so.
It’s not so much about saving time but on improving happiness
Due to their downshifting efforts, Woodpecker’s enjoy ample free time, so the argument is not only about saving time, but about the constant fire of information and news that might make you nervous, tensed and alerted beyond what is necessary.
There might be a point where the internet turns from a great source of information into an addiction. Some call that FOMO (“fear of missing out”).
And then news in the internet tend to follow the economics of information, i.e. the most agitating and threatening news and scenarios will prevail, no matter how realistic they are.
Again, I would like to propose the middle way for a try:
Studies show for TV consumption, that ½ hour a day adds to your happiness, everything beyond is negative.
I don’t know any studies on internet consumption yet, but for a first go I would suggest to try to reduce it as well to 30mins per day.
That does not include organizational work, like doing your banking and you might add a bit for truly creative work, like writing your blog but you get the picture:
The consumption part, like reading news, surfing around, spending time on Facebook and so on I clearly would like to limit to max ½ hour per day. Among that maximum one source of news – and please select a trusty and serious one that covers a wide range of areas, such as to minimize sensationalist and unnecessarily unnerving information as well as a too narrow point of view (German readers might like to try e.g. Tagesschau.de, but that’s a personal preference only).
Ah, and yes, woodpeckers goal would be to spend any freed up time on strengthening real world social networks – one of the strongest and proven happiness providers.
That’s a tough one, and easy to say if you are on holidays and distracted anyway. Let’s see if it is realistic to stick by it, but at least let’s start being honest about internet and its addiction potential.
Cheers from northern Italy,