There’s nothing happening around you, except for the ordinary buzz of everyday life. People walk, cars drive past, the wind rustles through the trees and somewhere in the distance, a phone rings. Now imagine if you were transported from this into a storm of activity that overwhelms you – take a look at a graphic that puts together what happens on the web every minute. While it isn’t documented and the sources are not given due attribution, it shows how crowded our ‘information superhighway’ – to quote an early description of the net has become. It’s like imagining a quiet road with intermittent traffic becoming an autobahn where the number of vehicles and the action never ceases.
This post, for example, will be just one of 1500 blog posts created every minute. So the fact that you are here, reading this, is a real privilege as far as I am concerned. Or the fact that you got here in the first place. You have navigated through millions of links to land up here and spend about 4-5 minutes (or however long it takes to go through a 500-word post) on something that you believe is worth your time. Because, by the time you read this, another 7500 fresh posts would have appeared in blogs across the net.
The catch-up game, no matter what you ‘follow’ is well and truly over. In our lifetime, we will have always have access to all the stuff that is being created. Even going by the law of averages where only 1% of all that is created is worth consuming, we would still have no way of seeing all of it. Or even a tiny fraction. And once you factor languages into it, we are talking about consuming only atom sized portions. Because when you look at the other side of the statistics – how many websites do people visit in a day (it’s about 100, for those statistically inclined) you see the utter futility of matching consumption to creation
Maybe I made it a little easy for you to get here. Posted a link on that ‘social terminus’ – Facebook and the career station – Linked In, as well as the world’s personal broadcasting tool – Twitter. But if the graphic were to be believed, there are nearly 700,000 status updates on Facebook every minute and nearly 100,000 tweets. So its easy for my voice to get drowned in the chatter, even if you are part of my ‘personal network’
In a sense, I am happy that all this activity stays within the confines of little screens in your hand or on office desktops and does not spill over into real life. Because the potential for permanent distraction is immense. That is why programs like the ironically named Freedom, which cut off access to the net so that you can get things done, have proliferated. Because of the urge to check your email every five minutes or returning to your Facebook page to see how many comments your smart post or retort got, is immense. There’s more discipline required now to accomplish even the most mundane tasks. And that’s hardly a good thing.
A recent post (in 2019) by Broadbandsearch.net lists the number of activities that the internet facilitates and while there are obvious uses, the changes in behaviour are remarkable – 95% of online shoppers read reviews before shopping, for example.
The net has become an integral part of life and while some of the effects have been negative, there is no doubt that it has changed the world faster in the last few decades than in the millenia before.