If you know someone (or are someone) who spends entirely too much time online, chances are that you are familiar with the online "time sink." These are activities that in and of themselves are usually not good or bad - but just like any other hobby, can become very time-consuming. A few years ago, I fell prey to this, in the social news sites. Digg.com was my poison. I have no idea how many hours I spent in the political opinion and news sections of that site arguing over politics. Most of the time it was fun, but it was also stressful, and I found myself checking it obsessively, to see if anyone had replied to my comments, or "dugg" my stories.
I wasn't the only one. Before long, I had a group of friends off-site, and we would e-mail each other, to let everyone know when we needed help dealing with a "troll," or cyberbully, or cyberstalker. Then these friends were involved on other sites, (Twitter, del.icio.us, reddit, fark, stumbleupon), and several of us got hooked on more sites, which took more time. It all seemed so very important at the time, and I went on for a couple of years with a great passion for this activity. Then one day, I was tired of it, and was simply done. At that point, I began to wonder what all the fuss was about, and wish I had some of that time back. Oh, I still participate in the social news sites, but for a few minutes a week, as opposed to hours a day.
So, this week, we're going to talk about some other time sinks on the web. Tomorrow, we're going to address Facebook games.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.