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Why I Get Stuck on the Intarwebs

This repeats and then expands on my response to kate_nepveu's posting of a link to an article on Slate about why things like Google and Twitter are addictive to many:

The Slate article explains so much about what happens to me when I'm tired and lonely (because the Mr. has gone to bed early or because he's on travel). I have to look at stuff - just one more thing - and am tempted to post garbage on my LJ because I want responses, and yet most of what I am looking at is the emotional equivalent of the nutritional value of a marshmallow Peep.

In fact, I've even said as much, when my husband asks me why I do it: "If the day didn't bring me anything I really want, I feel I have to keep looking for something that will make me happy."

(And then he'll often say, "You know, life is what happens when you're making other plans.")

I haven't been on Facebook for months because where at least a third of my my LJ interactions have some component of real satisfaction (I cheer someone up a little, someone admires something I wrote, I find out that someone I care about is feeling better, etc.), less than 10% of my Facebook time was anything like that. I was playing Mafia Wars and Cafe World and looking at memes from people I used to know in high school who now have no interests in common with me. So I essentially dropped it. Sometimes it backfires because the RL friends on there assume I'm keeping up, but the heck with it.

I guess I ought to see whether I can check it once or twice a month for news and not play any games. But I'm a little frightened to try.



( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 9th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
That makes so much sense. And I dropped FB for just the same reason.

It fits with what I was saying about writing earlier today, too. Easier to look for the quick fix than invest in creating something.

Your husband's right, though. We need to get out more. ;)
Apr. 10th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)

You're so right, and when I'm feeling OK, I can control the situation a little better. It's when I haven't slept well for several nights that things get stupid and bad. But it's interesting to look at the underlying mechanisms.

(I though about commenting on your post, but I didn't seem to have much to add ... but then, I'm feeling craptastic today .. some sort of cold thing.)

(no subject) - scribblemoose - Apr. 10th, 2010 09:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 9th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
I don't agree with the connections Yoffe was making in the article or the conclusions she drew. The analogy of the cat uselessly chasing laser beams at the end of the article was a particularly spectacular deductive leap. Her premises were based on these very tenuous analogies, and 1 + 2 = 3 =/= A + B = C, so it's fallacious.
Apr. 10th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)

Well, the article seems to strike a chord with something I've noticed in myself, and commenters here and on Kate's LJ seem to feel it applies to them as well.

I'm fully prepared to believe that it doesn't apply to everyone. There's a lot of variation to how human beings respond to various stressors.

(no subject) - 7veilsphaedra - Apr. 10th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - smillaraaq - Apr. 10th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Apr. 10th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - 7veilsphaedra - Apr. 10th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Apr. 11th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 9th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that sounds about right. I haven't been on Facebook in a while and when I go, it's just to accept (or ignore) friend requests. I used to read status updates and comment on them all the time but since FB redesigned, I just kind of hate it because it makes me have to work to find those updates and well. I stopped. And the ease with which I stopped speaks volumes.

Same with Tumblr. Shiny initially but it doesn't give me the interaction I crave. Twitter I can leave or take but for now, I've left.

My journal though I stick with because I get all sorts of interaction.
Apr. 10th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)

Yes, exactly. With a lot of those long-ago acquaintances, the fact that I know they're still out there seems to be what's important to me. Trying to make it more than that (especially for those who were never more than acquaintances IRL) is what went wrong. That, and the ridiculously addictive games.

Apr. 9th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Indeed the community but also personal blog level of LJ is what keeps me coming back since 2002.

I've practically abandoned my own blog, but feel satisfied when having had a nice comment exchange with my regular reading list, sometimes even exchanging addresses and sending stuff on and getting stuff back when knowing the person virtually for a few years.
Reading certain LJs regularly connects me to other people's experiences and I can share in their ups and downs and get perspective on my own ups and downs.
Also my real life family and friends don't share a lot of my interests, that's just how it worked out.
Apr. 10th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)

Yes - that's how LJ feels to me as well. I tried making friends among the parents of my daughter's classmates and at my old synagogue, and it was useless. Once we finished talking about our children, we had nothing in common. And even that was not a great match - their kids all like sports and play in band or orchestra, and mine likes Terry Pratchett and editing video recordings.

I can talk to my sister Amy and my stepmother about some fannish things, and I consider myself lucky to have that much.

(no subject) - estara - Apr. 10th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 11th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, same here.

Edited 'cause that was the wrong icon.

Edited at 2010-04-11 03:51 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - estara - Apr. 12th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Apr. 12th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
^^ - estara - Apr. 12th, 2010 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: ^^ - lady_ganesh - Apr. 12th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: ^^ - estara - Apr. 13th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: ^^ - lady_ganesh - Apr. 14th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 9th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
The Slate article explains so much about what happens to me when I'm tired and lonely (because the Mr. has gone to bed early or because he's on travel)

Mmm, yes, but didn't you pretty much have that figured out for yourself already? I know you've talked before about how you were stepping back from FB because you felt like you were wasting more and more time there without getting enough payoff in the form of the social/emotional connection you were craving. And I'm pretty sure you've also talked about LJ helps fill needs that are being un-/insufficiently met in your face-to-face life -- geeky female friends who share more of your interests than most folks you associate with in RL, friendly social interactions when your job is leaving you feeling like you're isolated and alone during the day, etc.?

In fact, I've even said as much, when my husband asks me why I do it: "If the day didn't bring me anything I really want, I feel I have to keep looking for something that will make me happy."

(And then he'll often say, "You know, life is what happens when you're making other plans.")

Mmmm, but if passively accepting whatever happens isn't providing what you want and need, isn't it a *good* thing to proactively seek out ways to improve your situation? I mean, sure, like anything else this can be counterproductive and unhealthy if done to excess, or if used as a distraction that keeps you from tackling deeper problems, but in moderation it seems to me like it's much healthier and productive to actively do things that bring you some sort of satisfaction, rather than just griping about the ways in which your life is lacking without doing anything about it...

I guess I ought to see whether I can check it once or twice a month for news and not play any games. But I'm a little frightened to try.

Hmmm...I don't know what the Mac browser options are like, but I have a Firefox extension that lets me permanently remove elements from webpages -- I use it to get rid of things like unwanted Google tabs, or huge empty frames left over from adblockers; maybe there's something similar that would let you block bits like the games so you don't ever see them? Or else use something similar to LeechBlock that will ration the time you spend there, limit it to certain times of day, etc.?

Apr. 10th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC)

Well, of course you're right - I did indeed come to that conclusion awhile ago. But you know I how always grab for external validation. Seeing someone talk about it in a fairly mainstream forum felt remarkable. So I remarked upon it ... .

I should just go into my damn FB settings and remove all the games, that's all. And the Young Lady says I should just set things to Ignore all the people whose updates aren't doing anything for me. But that's the INTJ thing to do ... woobie INFP me feels that it would be so cruel to ignore them - they wanted to be my friends. Of course, this reluctance among emotional-type folks this is one of the things that FB and its advertisers bank on.

No, I can't really disagree with the Mr. on this one. I'm not talking about discussing things with you like this, or writing stories or anything truly interactive like that. I'm talking about near-mindlessly clicking links instead of getting my ass out of the chair and going to bed so I have enough energy the next night to write stories and reviews and good stuff like that. Not to mention getting things together so I can make time to actual see my imouto-chan IRL ... .

Apr. 10th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
Well, as far as I'm concerned my nee-chan is smarter and more insightful than a lot of the useless mainstream pundits like Prudie, so their validation isn't worth very much compared to your own thoughts! Harrumph.

But that's the INTJ thing to do ... woobie INFP me feels that it would be so cruel to ignore them - they wanted to be my friends.

Heh, see, that's where my more extreme introversion score comes in, and maybe that near-even F/T split -- I don't have as much of a problem rejecting "friendships" from people that I can't see as more than distantly friendly acquaintances; I find people so draining in general that I get really stubborn about resisting what feels like demands for greater intimacy and time/energy suck than I'm willing to give. I don't particularly want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I have to guard my spoons pretty zealously and know I can't count on other folks to do that for me, so I have to be my own guard dog at the gates, so to speak.

And even a little bit of mindless downtime on games or whatnot isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as you don't get so sucked into it that it's keeping you away from sleep or more productive/satisfying interactions. When my insomnia's particularly bad, for instance, or if I'm sick and feeling too brainfogged to deal with serious reading or projects or even chatting with anyone, that's when I tend to go for silly little puzzle games or hack-and-slash dungeon crawls, or empty out all the stuff that's piled up for weeks on the DVR -- games or TV, or really familiar kidlit comfort reads, are *just* diverting enough to keep me from stewing mentally about not being able to sleep or feeling wretched, without being so compelling that I can't shut 'em off easily when I finally feel drowsy. It sounds like the FB games, for whatever reason of their design or proximity to somewhat unsatisfying social media or your own personality aren't working that way for you, of course, but perhaps there may be times where some other sorts of games on a different site might be nice little mental-winddown casual things for you? (Orisinal has a lot of stuff that works particularly well for me when I just want a brief little destressing sort of casual distraction -- the games are all very simple and mostly have very cute, soft graphics and soothing music, so the overall effect is relaxing rather than an OCD-ish winding-up anxiety...)
Apr. 10th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Eh, I suffer from the exact same issue. My best friend who is also my roommate got a boyfriend last year. We've been attached at the hip for the last 12 years but now she's attached to her beau and we usually don't exchange more than "have a good day" as we leave for work despite living in the same apartment. I'm naturally an introvert but also a bit shy. At this point, I feel that I totally lack friend-making skills, and end up spending way too much time looking up irrelevant info on the net when I really need to get my butt out of house and learn how to make friends the hard way.
Apr. 10th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)

Jinx, this is one of those YMMV issues where life stage & situation makes a hell of a lot of difference. For a 51-year-old woman like myself - time-consuming family responsibilities, a soul-sucking job that pays too well to leave casually, no interest in TV, no interest in mainstream bestsellers, little interest in the usual high-powered feminine chitchat etc. that's typical of the vast majority of women near my age in our section of society in this location - making friends via the method you're calling "the hard way" is pretty useless. See my comments to estara, above. for some more details about how this was going for me.

I had practically given up on finding girlfriends with similar interests, until I got on LJ.

Apr. 10th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
I understand what you mean and hope you didn't take any offense.

Despite my youth, I'm really out of touch with mainstream entertainment. I see few movies and the last 'regular' show I watched ended five years ago. I don't listen to the radio as most of my music interests are hardly known in America. When my coworkers are going on about shows or movies, most of them go over my head.

My circle of friends consists of two people who I've known for over a decade, but they have their own lives and we rarely spend time together. I don't really care if I have a romantic relationship or not, but I don't want to be alone. The last year has probably been the loneliest that I can remember and I've been suffering bouts of depression. I'll barely be 25 next month but I feel a lot older. I can see myself spending the next five years like this and that's the last thing I want to do.
(no subject) - estara - Apr. 10th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jinxaire - Apr. 11th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - estara - Apr. 12th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chomiji - Apr. 13th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jinxaire - Apr. 16th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC) - Expand
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )


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