Thursday, 10 March 2011

Dopamine rush (or How the web turned me from a creator into a consumer)

I've not been playing as much music over that last few months, nor have I been taking as much exercise.
Most of my sporting pleasures are outdoors and it's been cold and wet, I've been doing some long hours at work and some disappointing news on the music front has taken some of my initiative from there.
So I've told myself.
And it's horseshit.

Some people come home from work and put the TV on, it then stays on until they go to bed.
Not being a TV watcher for the most part* I've always been a little bit smug and superior about the stuff I did instead: read books, news websites, exercised, played music yadda yadda yadda.
Pride cometh before a fall.

The reason that my excuses for not creating more music or getting properly fit are horseshit is because I've been doing much the same as the TV couch potatoes but with my own personal drug of choice.
The web.

I was joking with a friend yesterday about not being able to go to bed because I hadn't finished reading the internet yet and it reminded me of a study a saw recently (can't remember where I'm afraid, you'll come to understand why) that said some people get a dopamine hit from learning new things or acquiring knowledge.
And this has been my drug of choice. I've not been sat in front of the TV because I've been sat in front of my PC.
For hours at at time.
You could argue (and I certainly did to myself) that it's not like I've been sat here watching prat-falls on youtube or vegging out playing farmville on facebook, I've been reading a fair number of web comics true, but mostly I've been reading news or current affairs comment sites. Getting my little hits of knowledge.
But am I really learning anything? Or am I just filtering articles and stories to provide data that supports my already-held views?

So today I did an experiment and chalked up a tally of websites I've visited this evening:
38 webcomics
68 news articles or fact-based blog entries
4 comment runs off those blogs
15 other sites (webmail, facebook, house-hunting stuff)
And am I any smarter than I was yesterday?

So, it's time to cut down. It's tempting to cut off entirely (because I find it easier to stop doing something than to limit doing something) but I don't read a newspaper and I don't watch the TV and there's only so ignorant I'm willing to be.
So cutting down it is.
Maybe I'll get back to creating some content rather than just consuming it.**

* Ironically there's a tv series on at the moment called How TV Ruined Your Life which sounds really interesting.
** You'll note that the alternative title still puts me as a passive actor in this, I'm aware that the web has done nothing to me, it's how I've chosen to use the web, but I thought it read better as a title.

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