How the internet stops you having fun

Opinion: the web demands procrastination as payment

It is a poorly-guarded secret that I have trouble settling down to do any serious work. Normally, without a gun or a deadline pointed at me, it takes a long time to get started in the morning.

But last Saturday I had the day to myself. My plans involved travelling to an icy northern continent and whacking the crap out of the indigenous peoples.

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And yet when I sat down in front of the computer with a cup of coffee in my hand, I still found myself footling around with Facebook Scrabble, web comics, and videos of people falling over in humorous circumstances.

For almost an hour.

The only conclusion possible, is that the internet itself demands procrastination from us as a sort of tithe.

If you add up the number of minutes wasted in this way, each day around the world, it must come to several lifetimes. We are literally sacrificing entire lives to this.

What should be done about this? Can anything be done? I've got nothing against wasting time when you should be doing something useful but wasting time when you could be having more fun is just ridiculous.

It's like staying up to watch the end of Highlander 3 when your girlfriend is upstairs easing herself into something lacy and insubstantial (and I know people who do this).

What I need is a "picture-in-picture" display on my computer monitor and TV that shows me what I could be doing. This would display footage from concealed wireless cameras worn by friends as well as all possible TV channels, and films currently showing at the cinema.

Some kind of AI algorithm would be used to automatically choose the most exciting video feed to display from whatever was happening at that moment. Whenever the actual display on my screen (or my own concealed wireless camera) matched the "director's choice", the picture-in-picture would be hidden. So whenever it popped up, I'd know I should be somewhere else or watching something else.

I should probably get on with some work now...