In our previous post we urged you to wait before responding to every impulse that the internet brings your way. We encouraged you to make a list of things you need to do and return to it later when you aren’t studying.
An added benefit of organizing your time like this is that it will help you to distinguish those things which actually are important from those things we merely think are important at the moment. Doing this is a wonderful way to resist the internet’s unspoken ethic that what is new is of greater value than what is permanent.
Last year cultural critic Robin Phillips observed that the internet panders to “the human bias for newness.” In his article ‘The Worldview of Facebook’, Phillips explained that “This bias has always been part of the human species, since a key element to our survival has been our brains’ instinctive gravitation to the most recent changes in our environment. But while this can be useful in helping us to detect the slight movement of a leopard in the tree above us, or the movement of a snake in the corner of our tent, the Internet has pandered to the brains’ tendency to focus on what is recent at the expense of what is enduring.”
Phillips went on to explain that unlike early book printers, who had strong economic incentives to promote the reading of older works as well as recent ones, the various media connected with the internet privilege what is current, up-to-date, and happening this very second, over what is enduring.
Learning to resist the tyranny of the urgent is one of the first steps towards resisting the internet’s hegemony over our mental space.