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Jan 30 2012

Create or consume?

How do you use the internet? Well, besides the very obvious act of sitting in front of your favorite screen and reading these words. And these. And the ones to follow.

There are different ways of using the internet and I’m struggling with that right now. On one hand, you can create things of value: blog posts, record keeping, lesson plans, deepened knowledge. On the other hand (which is very often the same hand), you can consume content until your brain leaks: social media, Pinterest, reading blog posts, chasing links reading one thing after another. I’ve shaken both hands, sometimes at the same time. While I kid that I would have gotten nothing accomplished in college with today’s internet (remember the dial-up excitement of the 90s?), I also know for a fact that an iPad or even a first generation iPod would have made music school a lot easier. I was at Northwestern University the other day for a homeschool event; while sitting in a lobby I watched the students peck at their laptops between classes and turned a really ugly shade of green…16 years after I got my undergrad. Soooo much easier.

But I digress. As usual.

Being constantly plugged in has its pluses and minuses, and sorting those out is today’s challenge. I can’t turn off my phone, it’s the only phone in the house. I don’t want to turn off my internet, Pandora keeps me sane. And I’d shut down the browser and email and any possible thing that could distract me, but I need those to actually get work done. The problem arises when I need to write (and my writing projects are increasing daily, much to my soul-crushing fear of failure delight) and my brain whimpers for relief.

“Jen! Just five minutes on Facebook! Share some posts on your blog page! Connect people! See if someone posted a funny picture of a cat doing the cha-cha with a tangerine in the backseat of a Edsel!!”

My God, I can’t even finish this without allowing distractions to smack my brain around. However, the cat was quite amusing.

To create or to consume, that is the question (sorry Shakespeare).

So what is your answer?

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  1. Kate

    My answer? I do some of each.

    I tried using software to block my Internet connection while I was writing a few months ago, and it was heaven, until I freaked out because I wasn’t willing to wait for the timer to finish running before I did some research I needed for said writing.

    And now, I am supposed to be fixing a problem with my Amazon account so that I can actually download and read “Dies Irae” – which sort of counts as work since I write YA (rationalize, rationalize, rationalize).

    I guess I should send the kids to bed and actually get some writing done.

    1. Jen

      I started to put a Chrome extension on my browser to block out sites for parts of the day, and then freaked out because I do actually need those sites during the day! So I can relate. There’s gotta be a happy medium in there somewhere.
      And right now I’m hiding in what passes for my office getting some work done while dear hubby corrals the cherubs into bed. Not perfect, but a start.

  2. ChiTown Girl

    um…yeah…

    This is precisely why I’m late for work every freakin’ morning!

  3. christine fonseca

    honestly? Varies by the moment…

    1. Jen

      Christine, I’m in awe of your work ethic though! I swear you don’t sleep, and you work and you write and you promote! I can’t see you wasting time; I envy that single-mindedness of purpose.

  4. suzan

    I love Scrivner software, it has a block out function. I am lost in byte land otherwise!

    1. Jen

      I can’t block out too much for too long; I need some bytes for work! Agh!

  5. Terri

    Question: To create or to consume?
    Answer: Yes!

    I maintain the websites for three volunteer organizations — when I remember.

    I post on my own blog — when ideas won’t let me sleep.

    I read other people’s blogs — when I need to remind myself that I’m not the only person who parents children with special needs.

    I catch up with people (or lurk) on Facebook — when I really ought to be doing other things.

    I play ONE game on Facebook — that I play it multiple times doesn’t count.

    Yes and yes!

  6. Benoit

    My answer is : pleasure !
    Give you pleasure as much as you can 🙂
    But aren’t you cyberdependant ????? 😉

    1. Jen

      I AM cyberdependant, which I suspect is the whole problem! LOL

  7. Margaret

    I remember being so excited when I received a Brother word processor/typewriter when I was a sophomore in college because it made papers so much easier to write and edit. Seems so dark-ages now.

    Anyhoo…to create AND consume–THAT is the answer 😉

    1. Jen

      I know! I had a box-like computer-ish thing in college. Essentially a glorified word processor, connected to a dot-matrix printer. Livin’ the high-tech life, I was! LOL

  8. trish

    This is a great question, definitely something I’ve been struggling with lately. Work has been slow, so during my desk-bound day, I’m doing waaaay too much consuming — Facebook, Twitter, fashion blogs, etc. I welcome the entertainment and distraction, but I also feel like I’m cluttering up my mind and stifling my creativity. So now I’m trying to just grab a notebook and a pen and get away from my desk for part of each day — you’ve sometimes got to grapple with boredom in order to get to a creative place, I think.

    1. Jen

      It’s a little bit boredom (he’s awesome, but A is not an adult and I spend a LOT of time with him), a little bit avoidance.

  9. Siggi

    No matter what tech we do or do not have available to us, figuring out how to both manage and enjoy our time is a huge issue. I try to keep a little voice in my head to remind me to take my life just seriously enough, and no more than necessary. It also keeps track of my priorities, and nudges me when something is being neglected, or when some needed diversion has become a needless time suck. In short, I guess that producing vs consuming isn’t the issue for me – I ask myself if what I’m producing and/or consuming MATTERS, and go from there.

    1. Jen

      That’s a good way to consider it: does it MATTER. Scrolling through Pinterest: no. Checking Facebook for interesting posts/articles on which I can write: yes.

      1. Siggi

        I’d suggest leaving yourself permission to decide what matters in the moment, too. Scrolling through pinterest when you are stressed out might be just the thing, if it helps you de-stress. These things are all tools – the trick is using a screwdriver when you need to put in a screw, then putting it down again when you really need to do some plowing!

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