Time-waste Equilibrium

If you had kept half an ear open for the past few days you would have definitely heard of the advent of a mysterious thing called Google Plus, a social networking site on the lines of Facebook, which seems to have taken the world by a storm.  There are forum wars going on, the loyalists of each group engaged in cheeky ripostes and counter-ripostes and contributing a significant portion to the millions of terabytes of useless stuff which you find on Internet these days.  I knew that Google had something like this up its sleeves, as I had read a study published by them a year back on the concept of friend circles and stuff like that(Yes, seriously).  As I vaguely remember, the report demonstrated the concept, taking an example of a primary school teacher who had friends in a gay strip bar or something of that sort.  🙂

The reason I write this article is because of a hypothesis which recently struck me while working.   I am not sure if it holds true for anyone else, but it definitely holds true for me.  The hypothesis is that the amount of time wasted in the internet is roughly a constant over long periods of time subject to the availability of internet.  I have a certain lower threshold of time, I need to browse the net, which is imperative for me to work.  When there is a shortage of time, say a day before an exam, roughly for every two hours of work I put in, I need around an hour of net just to clear up my mind.  During normal days, when there isn’t any work to do and no assignments to submit, I have a upper cap of about 6 hours a day in front of the computer.  As the time is a constraint, there is a limit on the number of new things I venture into, on the internet.

To give you an example, say I have a Facebook Account, a Twitter Account and a RSS Feed.  Now, going by the higher limit of 6 hours, I roughly spend two hours on each of them and pack for the day.  This process continues everyday and I spend roughly equal amount of time browsing through each of these sites.  Things become interesting when there is a new entrant in the market.   Say something like Google Plus comes about.  And I create an account and I like it.  The number of free hours I have is still six.  But, it is difficult to divide my time equally among all four of them because I am used to spending two hours on each.  Soon, I find myself neglecting one of the accounts(while the other two accounts get their quota of two hours each) and finally just leaving it to rot, while I completely traverse all my energy into building a new account.(Note the use of the word build, for I feel it is not an easy job)

In 2007, when I joined IITM I had a GMail, Orkut and Blogger accounts.  I shall discount GMail as an instrument of time-waste as it is a necessary evil.  I also used to visit lots of Linux Forums to get it up and running in my computer and Wikipedia for that Dirac-Delta enthusiasm I had for quizzing in my 1st year.  That brings the total number of instruments of time-waste to 4.  As the year passed, I concentrated on writing new blog articles.  Then I discovered Google Reader.  Gradually, I shifted from a writing-driven time-waste mode to a reading-driven time-waste mode, that is I stopped blogging leaving the Blogger account to fall into a state of disuse.  Then, in mid-2008 I got a Facebook account.  The number of hours I spent visiting Orkut came down significantly until it met the same fate as the Blogger account.  And then I discovered Reddit.  Visits to the Linux Forums came down drastically.  Twitter came by and passed with hardly any sound as the name suggests as I could not comprehend the point of it’s existence in the first place.  Slashdot briefly usurped Reddit’s position until I came across Stumble-Upon, which I use even now.  The arrival of Google Buzz marked the demise of Google Reader, although I occasionally visit it to catch up with some internet comic strips.  Now, Google Plus has arrived.  Which activity will disappear from my current list of instruments of time-waste, I can only guess.  Structurally, it is similar to Facebook.  So, it may replace Facebook.  Or it may replace Google Buzz.  Or it may hinder my rejuvenated enthusiasm for blogging.  I do not know.

What do you people think?  Does this hold true for you too?  Is there a cap on the number of “instruments” of time-waste a single person can handle?  Drop in, with a word.  🙂

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17 thoughts on “Time-waste Equilibrium

  1. Saad Bhamla says:

    Coincidentally I was thinking along the same lines. I wondered to myself how I would spend the little amount of time I have on FB and GPlus.
    The conclusion I reached was that the last time I had to migrate from orkut to fb was when all my friends shifted to fb leaving me no choice..
    Sigh.
    I don’t think i have the patience to sit and build a whole network again. Can someone come up with a trick to just migrate friends from fb to gplus?

  2. Akshatha says:

    All my time is now being spent with Angry Birds, Seven Little Words and other related phlegm. Used to spend 9-10 hours a day online (barely weeks ago) on forums, reading blogs and NOT working. Seems like the end of an era. Is this a sign of evolution? 😐

    I’d like to read your opinion on Google Plus. Unable to form one myself, yet.

    • Ah, angry birds is addictive ain’t it? I played it for sometime, realized the trouble I will be in, if I get addicted to it and did a doDDa namaskaara to it. 🙂

      Considering that they copied the basic structure from FB, I can’t see Google Plus as much of an improvement. The only difference which stands out is the ease of adding people to those Venn Diagrams. The feature is there in FB too, but it is not easy to use, but a nice little app should take care of that.

      Personally, I would rather visit different sites for different aspects for what can be termed as “internet-life”. RSS Feed from Google Reader, discovering articles from Stumble-Upon and news from Slashdot. The main assumption they are driving at is a sort of one-stop-go for anything you do on the internet. People will get bored of looking at the same interface always and there may be a mass exodus from Google Plus too. But still, it is too early to comment on Google Plus’ future.

  3. Abhijit says:

    I have a totally different approach to time-wasting. And Internet takes a back seat in my equation. When I’m in touch with friends, face to face (like when I am at insti) I never use FB or any other social network. Anything I want to say, I’d rather say in person, or at max via Gtalk, if the person is more than a few rooms away (in another hostel, for instance). Since I don’t spend any time on social networks, I end up spending my free time watching videos (sitcoms/comedy shows/movies/documentaries).. and articles, like tech blogs/some news and webcomics online.

    However, when I am away, such as during summer, my activity on social networks increases dramatically. I continue to read web comics daily and read tech blogs/news articles too. And I also continue to watch videos… I think that in my case, our nature of being social animals compels me to interact with friends and so I end up on FB when I am physically away from my friends…

    • Welcome to the blog 🙂

      Hmmm, so do I. The point I was trying to drive at is that the number of “time-wasting-instruments” is a constant over a period of time. A birth of one new internet activity will lead to the demise of another.

      I have another observation. During exam times, the number of hours I spend on FB increases while the number of hours I spend on other things like RSS Feed or browsing Stumble-Upon decreases. I attribute it to the fact that it is hard to close your RSS Feed without reading all the articles, while it is easy to do the same in FB. 🙂

  4. Well, you know, I have this mantra – “When in doubt, multi-task”.
    As far as this Google Plus goes, I’d say, if significant number of people migrate, will take over facebook – just coz its an easy click and a drop-down box for replying to comments or adding comments.

    But I’m curious, how does this upper cap thingi work for you? ( I find it hard to do things apart from chatting for more than say an hour or so! )

    Also, when did you move to wordpress? 😛

  5. Welcome to the blog 🙂

    Ah, if that is so, what do you think Facebook will be doing? It’s an all out war, I guess. Anyway, Zuckerburg has announced that they are releasing something awesome the coming Friday.

    http://tinyurl.com/5vhlx6y

    Who knows what it could be? 😀

    Ah, 1 hour a day and you call yourself a member of Vetti Club? Cha!! The number of activities tend to remain constant and I am apprised of the recent developments in the world, so I am not cribbing. Works fine for me. 😀

    The wordpress move happened a week back, when random Chinese Spammers attacked my old blog and I found the prospect of cleaning them up, too tedious.

  6. Me likey the WP move, this looks better than the previous blog IMO.

    Ah, now, that sounds interesting… hmm, for all we know competition could make the market better for us, if nothing else 😉

    Oh and I spend time in other things such as sitcoms and movies and playing and hanging out [ Earlier used to be synonymous with Tif/CCD ]. And hence the presidentship.

    I wonder if I should start spamming this blog by starting conversations 😛 How’s Mumbai/DB?

  7. I doubt the former man 😛 Anyway, mugwoo junata were never allowed into the Vetti Club anyway 😉

    Kewl about Bambai, GS is well, you know, kinda peaceful for now. No work yet, but also no internet – so kinda gets boring at times.

  8. Siddharth says:

    I do agree with the overall constancy of time waste per day…but my amount on the internet vary drastically per day with the anount of sitcoms i watch releasing on that particular day..considering i watch like 17-18 per week…the standard deviation is considerably large…

    • Welcome to the blog. 🙂

      Hmm, makes sense. But, I normally keep the Facebook tab open while watching sitcom and I pause the sitcom to reply whenever I see a notification. I count this as Facebook time, still.
      Anyway, as I said, works for me. Not sure, if it works for others.

  9. Akila says:

    Aah, good you’ve taken to blogging again; you’re a natural at writing-driven time wasting 😛

    Well, obviously what you say holds for anything – more specifically for substitute stuff. Therefore I don’t think why you stopped blogging was because of the advent of stuff to read and hence the reduced time on internet. It should have been more to do with your losing interest in writing (one needs to maintain certain standards on a blog and therefore has to take that much effort :P)

    So I agree with the uselessness of yahoo mail with arrival of gmail, and of the discarded orkut account when facebook appeared. We hate redundancy 😛

    • Welcome to the blog. 🙂

      I am a natural at wasting time, not necessarily writing-driven. 😀
      Trust me, I lost the enthusiasm to write once I discovered reddit and slashdot. Try it, you will realize why. 😛
      My claim is one new activity will still replace another, even though they are mutually exclusive and not redundant.

  10. Shyam says:

    Well, I see a pattern here. Even I should start writing “Welcome to the blog :D” often 😛

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