The Browsing Trap: Narrated by a Victim

      Even as I write this I am caught in the grasp of the Internet. It is taking hold. I cannot resist the urge to read the summaries of all the Transformers Movies because I just remembered those exist. I know I should be writing, but can’t that wait just a bit longer? “I’ll only take just a few minutes,” I say to myself as I pull up Wikipedia. As I whiz from movie summaries to book reviews to NFL statistics I repeat that same line: “I’ll stop after this page.” Of course, that never seems to happen. After all is clicked and done, my browsing time is over 2 hours. I have fallen victim yet again.

      The Browsing Trap regularly ensnares teenagers such as myself, usually when they are attempting to work on a homework assignment or do something they really don’t want to do. The Internet uses the deadly tools of Wikipedia and Facebook and Donald Trump’s Twitter to ensnare the careless researcher. You may start looking at math concepts but you will end up watching cat videos. When doing research for your Civics essay, you will find yourself eventually reading Donald Trump’s Twitter posts. The distractions of the internet are endless. Advertisements, social media, and Youtube make it difficult to get any work done. We promise ourselves we will take but a second and get back to our glorious project, but that never happens. Our irrational brains value instant gratification. “Why do what can do later, right away?” We ask ourselves.This reversal of common advice seems perfectly rational at the moment, yet completely idiotic the day before the project is due. Tim Urban perfectly explains procrastination in his TED Talk as The Rational Decision Maker and the Procrastination Monkey. Watching this TED Talk got me stuck in another Browsing Trap of watching TED Talks and gaining absolutely nothing from them. I hate irony.

      I am unfit to give any sort of advice regarding browsing habits. My Browsing Trap Time (BTT, yep I just invented that) was over 4 hours while writing this blog post. I get really distracted while working. In order to be more productive, I am going to experiment with a kind of treatment for browsing. For one week, I will stick to my browsing habits but set a timer that will calculate exactly how many hours a day I spend browsing. At the end of the week, I will add up how many hours I spent browsing and, based on that total, will set a browsing quota for the next week. If I meet or go below that quota, I will reward myself. If I exceed it, I will not reward myself. There are many flaws with this plan, such as the fact that it requires me to have the diligence to time myself, but it is an effective one. With this plan, I will finally be able to break the inefficient cycle of procrastination that currently affects me and will finally become productive! I’ll start tomorrow.

© Copyright Arush Iyer 2017

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