On the website of one of the Dutch quality newspapers NRC Handelsblad, Marc Leijendekker pointed out an article from The New York Times. ‘Staring at a computer screen for about 8.5 hours: that is how an average American spends his day. The New York Times has collated the results of a few studies to establish what this means for our way of thinking and the functioning of our brain.’
The opinions are divided. Is the internet a blessing or a curse for the human mind? Scientist are still debating the issue.
Personally I think that intellectually challenged people will be deprived even more by the internet but bright people will take strong advantage. You can make the choice: play games all day, chat, gamble or watch porn. On the other hand you can learn everything about literature, politics or sculpture. The availability of information on the internet is not corrupting but rather how you use this information is what matters.
Some people use twitter to inform people of basic everyday tasks: ‘I am now going to bed’ or ‘Good morning!’ Others write interesting texts or express inspiring thoughts. It is even better if this is accompanied by a link to something you have created or invented. Twitter cleverly highlights those who have something new to contribute, those who don’t say anything worthwhile and those who just rehash material generated by other people.
For writers the internet provides a wealth of opportunities. In the old days you had to deal with several publishers to get worldwide publication of your book. Now this can be arranged through just one publisher who deals with the world-wide market. It is still early days for using the internet to promote a book, in print or as an e-book, and this should not make a great difference nowadays. My publisher however is a huge champion of this medium.
There are scientists who are afraid that frequent use of the internet will mean that traditional methods of study such as contemplation, reflection, introspection and careful reading will disappear. However my experience is that the internet provides a great support. To write my weekly column for this website I clear Thursdays. This is the day I surf the net and check out each of the TV channels. This can go on for hours, but I do take time off to do my shopping and go for a walk. The interesting thing is that in the middle of these activities this week’s subject suddenly emerges.
Even so, I do not yet start writing. I sleep on it without trying to direct my thoughts on the subject at hand. The strange thing is that, overnight all these fleeting impressions from the previous day have come together to form one coherent theme, which allows me to write the column in one go the following morning. So the internet can be a blessing. It all depends on how you use it.