Blogging into oblivion

How much time do I waste online?

There must be moments for all of us when we need to pause and consider our use of time online, and I have in the past sometimes concluded that my own keen commitment to blog discussion, Twitter etc. was getting unhealthily obsessive. A number of things have all come together now to indicate to me that I need to make a proper audit and assess the way my online activity affects: 1. the philosophical, political and religious issues I care about; 2. the social, cultural and community values I support at a local and wider level; and 3. my own self-care, i.e. my psychological and spiritual welfare as a result of engaging with others online, or simply on a more mundane level, could I get out in the daylight more and lose nothing by turning off the computer or smart phone?  Indeed, is the phone that smart?

1. I have seen no evidence whatsoever that any online activity engages people sufficiently to make them consider other people’s ideas: the medium is entirely ephemeral and discussion is instantly forgettable.

2. In a limited way, the internet can be useful to further local issues because online discussion can be followed up in a practical way by face-to-face meetings and realistic plans. For example, a neighbourhood watch scheme liaising with the local authority and people in touch on the internet has been one of the positive surprises of this summer.

3, I have found the hazards of engaging with others online, during the past several years, far outweight the benefits or pleasant encounters. There have been times when my professional life has been threatened and my psychological well being has been undermined by people obsessively attempting to pursue me across blogs and other media, simply to destroy my reputation because they disagree with something I said.

On balance then, I have concluded the following:

I should restrict mu activities to blogging on matters that give me pleasure because I can see some result. Therefore this blog continues because it is practical, fun, amuses others and sometimes provides useful information to help my animals.

I should be very wary of engaging too much with news sites, Twitter, any kind of newspaper bloggers, and in particular Catholic traditionalist blogs: a very real waste of time from my point of view, as there are so many of them and they quite often tend to regurgitate the very same issues in more or less the same way, on a three weekly rotation.

Fr Hunwicke 7There needs to be a sensible balance, however.  Some sites, like the excellent Fr Hunwicke and the unmissable Fr Finigan provide thoughtful and spiritual input, and the comment boxes are not full of pointless people doing their own thing regardless of the topic.  Brother Eccles remains a positive waste of time and his inimitable humour thankfully doesn’t require getting into pointless combat with commenters, as there are few of them and they are mostly too obscure to be intelligible, apart from the ever lucid Ferdinand Mass-Trousers.

The problem with some blogs is that they get filled up with the outpourings of people who cannot manage to write a successful blog themselves and need to hijack someone else’s blog!  This is becoming quite a feature of a few blogs that are plagued by “enthusiasts” who make up to a dozen comments on a post!


So, it’s time for a significant reduction online. Let’s just try and call it a day. What can I do instead?  I live alone in a Spanish farmhouse and after I put the donkeys to bed (no, not literally) there isn’t a great deal of entertainment. I’ve tried listening to the Archers, but honestly, I really don’t know how to make such a huge adjustment in life. If anyone can explain the point of it, I would be most grateful.

Or there’s the news on Radio 4.  Lovely.  Let’s get the latest details on beheadings in the Middle East. Something else that is best left to go its own way.  Why lay awake at night trying to get the grisly details out of your head? It is no longer news. it is voyeurism.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette" as it details the concerns of country people and quietly shows how evil enters our lives through mundane and petty matters. Now retired, I have lost the need to fight past battles and recognize that my various contributions to life - both ecclesiastical and secular - have been enjoyable, sometimes flawed, occasionally disastrous; but mostly times worth celebrating.
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3 Responses to Blogging into oblivion

  1. ksam56 says:

    Glad your not throwing in the towel all together. Over the years I’ve very much enjoyed your blogs and posts. I too, do not understand the freedom to rip into others that seems to be the new norm. I always try to actually think of what I’m “saying”, when I type out replies, as if the person were actually there. Would I actually say x to them. If not…don’t let your fingers “say” it either. Simple as that.

  2. Jim of Olym says:

    Frere Rabbit, I mainly agree with you! Unfortunately the only way I can communicate with my son and daughter is via Facebook, as they don’t seem to read their emails. And it is hard to get them on the phone. Busy busy busy, they are. I don’t twit or face, myself, nor do i text. And it is true, I must have hundreds of blogs bookmarked, but only peruse 10 or 12 regularly. I can’t understand why people have this urge to be rood and norty to others online; they wouldn’t act that way face to face, or would they? I dunno.
    Keep up the donkey blog, puhleeze! It is a joy to read your adventures, even your mishaps.

  3. Frere Rabit says:

    Yes, I will certainly keep up this blog and there’s enough feedback from a small group of regular readers to know that the blog is appreciated. Besides, it is good to share Matilde, Rubí, Morris and Aitana with other people. The greatest number of hits on this blog in one day was in August . Two thousand people read my blog post about the lies concerning the donkey in Gaza. While it is good to know that an issue about lies and propaganda on this blog can get two thousand people thinking about the issue, this blog is not about numbers. It is a quiet place where visitors can read about the ordinary life of four donkeys and me. It is like keeping a diary, isn’t it?

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