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comment by ike
ike  ·  3129 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The internet is wasting our lives.

Although I convicted the internet for providing "easy access to stupid low-effort entertainment", I don't think it will or should change. I know I can't hold anything or anyone except myself responsible for what I spend my time on.

I think you and I are referring to different sets of things by "time-wasting". I generally am a good and productive student. I work hard and I get a lot done. I always strive to do more, but I do not think that I spend too much time on entertaining things rather than "work". I think that's what you refer to when you talk about time wasted: time spent on unproductive activities.

I wish my unproductive activities were different. When I talk about wasting time, I mean unproductive time spent on things that don't provide me with much reward or happiness.

You point out that while the entertainment media have changed drastically between your college years and mine, the existence of easy and unproductive activities hasn't changed. That's actually exactly what I'm complaining about. I realize the internet is a wonderful resource and is revolutionizing the world in countless positive ways. But when it comes to entertaining ourselves, I wish we had to depend on the means available before the internet. I think they are more rewarding.

However, you aren't wrong. Many of the things I wish I spent my free time on haven't changed over the last thirty years, and I would have found another low-effort thing to do instead of them if I had gone to college with you, such as reading good books and playing piano. I'm a time waster because I'm a time waster. My post was certainly intended to serve as a self-conviction of such. I want to stop doing stupid low-effort things. But you certainly put it a lot more clearly than I did (perhaps that's why I'm writing kind of defensively: you pointed out the truth, and the truth is that I suck).

I just wish my friends would more readily talk with me or go do something crazy with me (or even play video-games with me, as I mentioned in my OP) than they would spend their bored hours watching pirated TV or browsing the Reddit frontpage alone in their rooms.

Then again, maybe I'm just a complainer looking for somewhere else to shift the blame for lacking the social experience I wish I had. What do you think?





kleinbl00  ·  3129 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I think you and I are referring to different sets of things by "time-wasting".

No, I think we're talking about the exact same thing. However, you missed the most important part of my argument:

    - You use it as a crutch. I have more empathy than you. I am more eloquent than you. I handle social situations better than you. This is because so many of your interactions happen in a context-free text-based environment where you have no subtext to work with. Consequently I can out-argue you 99 times out of 100 because my Gymkhana was more stringent.

Listen closely, because I mean this will all my heart and because it may be one of the most important things you've ever heard:

You are jealous of us not because we grew up without the Internet, but because we grew up with OTHER PEOPLE without the Internet.

My generation "peoples" better than you. We're better at parties, we're better on dates, we're better in the courtroom, we're better at negotiating salaries, we're better at getting hired, we're better at buying cars, we're better at telling jokes. That you CAN blame on The Internet. We're oh so very much better at forming human connections than you are.

It's an arrogant thing to say. Trust me, I'm aware. But in my lofty position as Father Confessor of Reddit I get a lot of PMs. And they're invariably about someone's inability to connect or communicate with someone else. And, just as invariably, it's because this young man or woman straight-up sucks at reading body language. At parsing subtext. At putting themselves in the shoes of others.

Look - I didn't go to High School in the era of Facebook. Fuck - I didn't go to High School in the era of pagers. My social dance was vastly different than yours. I won't say simpler, I won't say more nuanced. But all that shit you guys have to do online in order to maintain a social life? We didn't have to do any of it. Which means all the time and energy that we put into passing notes or flirting in the halls or wearing that shirt she commented on or playing the right song on the jukebox? You guys have to blow it on a Friends list 1500 deep. And that sucks for you. It fucks you up. It means you're spending less time having a life and more time doctoring spin.

It Has Warped You.

That's why I recommended "Alone Together." Sherry Turkle is the preeminent expert on online relationships. "Alone Together" is the third book in a trilogy she started with The Second Self in 1984. She's got the figures to back it up. And she's got a few ways out.

Your problem isn't that you're wasting time, your problem is that you aren't finding fulfillment. And that's the real meat of what I said, and that's where we come back to agree: "The Internet" is responsible. The fact that you put a LAN party as a legit social occasion is really telling; the first time we stringed four computers together to play DOOM we were the biggest, loserest nerds on campus and everybody knew it, including us. It was far and away the most antisocial thing we could have done. It was putting a thing between our interpersonal interactions, despite the fact that we were in the same room. Simply put, your friends haven't learned how to be friendly. None of you have. I answer your PMs every day. You're lonely, you're frustrated, you're unfulfilled and you feel cheated of some of the prime experiences of your young life.

And I agree with you.

My daughter is a few months old. By the time she's old enough to interact with other people online Google Glass will be as old-hat as the iPod. Yet despite the fact that her grandfather created the first network in the history of the Department of Energy, I'm front-loading that kid's social interactions with as much in-human, in-person, face-to-face interactions as I can.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Look - I'm Generation X, one of the last of them. My parents weren't baby boomers. When we were your age, we were the slackers. We were the ne'er do wells. We were the losers that dwelled in basements, listened to Grunge and did nothing with our lives. Our idol was Kurt Cobain, who was widely derided as a pretty poor substitute for John Lennon. And then we came up with Yahoo, and then we came up with Google, and now we own your parents. But in doing so, we saddled you with this piss-poor social life because we could and because we didn't know how terrible it would be.

I think very, very few people have awoken to that fact.

So be one of the first - recognize that yes, you got shafted. Yes, none of your peers know what to do in a crowd. Yes, if it weren't for online dating you guys would do nothing but spank it to hentai and yes, the whole "asexual" movement is related to the fact that you guys suck ass at forming a human connection with anyone you share a room with.

And then do something about it. If there are 50 guys and 1 girl she isn't going to go with the hunk - she's going to go with the one who makes her laugh, makes her smile, and makes her feel like opening up. And if the other 49 are too busy asking their wingmen for advice over IM, you win.

be the change you want to see in the world.

Riley  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sorry in advance for the short response to such a long comment, but I think you've misjudged this a bit. I too was born in the nineties, and I too understand what OP is talking about, but I disagree with your diagnosis... or prognosis perhaps. Our generation definitely wastes too much time on the internet, I would never argue with that, but not all of us are deprived of meaningful social experiences. I too love LAN-ing with friends, but by far the best part of our get-togethers is what comes after that, when we sit around a fire, or in a dimly lit room and just open up. We talk for hours about everything about us, our hopes, dreams, fears, loves and if you were there, you would know that saying

    Simply put, your friends haven't learned how to be friendly. None of you have.
is completely inaccurate. Now I will admit that we don't have these interactions nearly as much as we should, or would like to, but we still have them.

Not only that, but your line

    my lofty position as Father Confessor of Reddit I get a lot of PMs. And they're invariably about someone's inability to connect or communicate with someone else.
seems to me to imply a strong selection bias on your part. I don't mean to really insult you by saying this, but I just want to know how often you interact with members of my generation outside of a setting where you are bound to see many at their lowest. And I'm sorry but
    Yes, none of your peers know what to do in a crowd. Yes, if it weren't for online dating you guys would do nothing but spank it to hentai and yes, the whole "asexual" movement is related to the fact that you guys suck ass at forming a human connection with anyone you share a room with.
is quite a statement to make, one that is laughably, provably wrong.

I do appreciate your input, I will think about what you said further, but I just felt that this clarification must be made.

EDIT: typo

kleinbl00  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Now I will admit that we don't have these interactions nearly as much as we should, or would like to, but we still have them.

The rest of it is prevaricating.

    I don't mean to really insult you by saying this, but I just want to know how often you interact with members of my generation outside of a setting where you are bound to see many at their lowest.

I just spent five solid 18 hour days with a whole bunch of you.

    one that is laughably, provably wrong.

Hop to, Sparky.

You're at a disadvantage. I've been your age. You've never been mine. I used to hate it when people would say "you'll understand when you're older" because I fucking understood then. But: You don't have the experience of seeing what high school was like before you were born.

I do.

ike  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I have to say that I was looking forward to a more thorough response than that.

kleinbl00  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Why?

    completely inaccurate

    seems to me to imply a strong selection bia

    is quite a statement to make, one that is laughably, provably wrong.

The whole of his argument is "me and my friends have fun, therefore I'm going to wave my hands and assert that everything you say is incorrect because truthiness."

Riley  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I apologize for helping this descend into a personal argument instead of a group discussion. How can you say it is prevaricating? You made inaccurate blanket statements, and I called you out on it. How would you like me to prove what I said? Can you prove what you said? (Again, I'm seriously asking.) You are correct, and I'm old enough to have been able to begin experiencing what you said about the "understanding when you're older" effect, but that not is grounds for disregarding what I have to say. I would like to be able to have this conversation when we're the same age, but that will obviously never be the case.

You distinctly made your argument out to be in reference to my entire generation, and my experiences are in contrast to your pontificating. I never asserted everything you said was wrong, I explicitly said I took issue with a few broad statements you made.

kleinbl00  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not going to have two conversations with one person pretending to be two. I've earned more respect than that.

You're proving my every point, by the way.

Riley  ·  3128 days ago  ·  link  ·  

you're wrong. I don't really know what to tell you other than that I am definitely not whoever ike is. I only responded to this comment of yours instead of the previous one because I saw it while I was working on my response and figured I would just respond here to save a split discussion

ike  ·  3129 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks a lot, kleinbl000, this is exactly what I needed to read. I have been realizing this over the last few months. It's extraordinarily hard to drag my peers away from the impersonal electronic interface.

Thanks for helping me to put my finger on it. I've been trying to figure this out.

kleinbl00  ·  3129 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks for reading it twice. ;-)

forwardslash  ·  3129 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    It was far and away the most antisocial thing we could have done. It was putting a thing between our interpersonal interactions, despite the fact that we were in the same room.

My brother-in-law once had a friend over at his house and they played Halo together, in separate rooms, over Xbox Live. It was incredibly sad but they saw nothing wrong with it. Things like that really make you reflect on your relationships with people.

PathogenXD  ·  3127 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I appreciate your standpoint, but I don't believe that we cannot have fulfilling interpersonal relationships via the internet. It's just a bit different. I and others I know all communicate almost solely by relay, and even though we cannot physically be together, we can still have meaningful experiences together! These relationships are every whit as real and fulfilling as relationships I could have if I went directly to where they were and interacted with them physically. If I did go physically, it would be a gift of great value to them of course, because they know how far it is for me.

kleinbl00  ·  3127 days ago  ·  link  ·  

| I don't believe that we cannot have fulfilling interpersonal relationships via the internet.|

Not my argument. I've been friends with a guy in Scotland since 1995. Never so much as heard his voice.

    These relationships are every whit as real and fulfilling as relationships I could have if I went directly to where they were and interacted with them physically.

Now there - there we can disagree. Come at it from the other side - you have friends that you hang out with and interact with. You eat meals with them, watch movies with them, talk about classes with them. Consider carefully:

If you never saw them in person ever again, would your relationship be diminished?

I don't think you can honestly say that an in-person relationship does not suffer from becoming a text-based relationship. I think it can still be a strong relationship, but it becomes a different relationship.

Thus, back to the core argument:

People who focus on online relationships lose some of their ability to have an in-person relationship.

I would argue that your inability to distinguish between the two demonstrates my point. If I can experience a closer relationship off-line than I can online, while you can experience just as intense a relationship online as off, which is more likely:

A) You experience a greater depth of connection in all things than I do

B) Your ability to experience connection in person has been diminished compared to me

I can make an argument for B. Can you make an argument for A?

PathogenXD  ·  3127 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't think that you can really make an argument for either, unless you had some sort of quantitative proof of a deeper relationship. Otherwise, we wouldn't have any way to compare the depth of our relationships. As for your first point, I have a friend that I met in high school, and we hung out almost every single day during and after school. We hung out so much that our families just sort of adopted each other. In any case, he had to move to a different school after sophomore year, but even so, our friendship is still very strong because we still hang out almost every day over the internet. He is my best friend and would trump any of the friends I see from day to day in real life. The friends that I meet day to day still mean a lot to me, but they still rank below my friend that I haven't seen face to face for almost six years.

kleinbl00  ·  3127 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I don't think that you can really make an argument for either

I can, in fact. It is the premise of the aforementioned MIT professor's body of work over the past 25 years. See also: Love and Sex with Robots.

| our friendship is still very strong because we still hang out almost every day over the internet.|

That was not the argument. The argument was that your relationship had been diminished by his moving away. I'm glad you skype every day. If you could choose to see him in person, would you?

Once again, I'm saying "there is scholarly data that reflects that." You're saying "It doesn't really feel true to me that." And, once again, this is like arguing "I know you just accused me of myopia, but I don't believe there's a man standing on that hill over there."

PathogenXD  ·  3127 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Whoops, I must have missed your earlier link to his work. Perhaps my ability to make relationships has been crippled both inside and outside the sphere of the internet, but to me it doesn't make a lot of difference. All I know is my perspective, I've never experienced anything else. While you may find that regrettable, I see no difference at all. My relationships feel deep and meaningful to me, so why should I seek something different?

kleinbl00  ·  3127 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    All I know is my perspective, I've never experienced anything else

Again, my point.

    My relationships feel deep and meaningful to me, so why should I seek something different?

Not saying you should. However, you are posting in a thread called "The internet is wasting our lives" and I set forth a number of points why the author might feel that way.

Soldier on, li'l camper. But also recognize that when someone explains why someone else feels empty inside, "but personally, I don't feel empty therefore your answers are wrong" is not a valid tactic of debate.