Reconsidering the Internet
Now and again, I come across entries pondering time spent on the Internet. They seem to come in waves as one blogger prompts a few readers and they in turn prompt a few more to consider their computer usage. Then there are studies about how the more time you spend online, the more likely you are to be depressed. And of course there is the ever-present desire to model healthy behaviors to our children. And the model of that crazy lady in Proverbs 31 with such well-ordered days who eateth not the bread of idleness.

What is a Christian woman to do?

Underlying the whole discussion is a certain belief that time spent on the Internet is time wasted. Certainly, a lot of it is but is it always true? Most of us were also raised in a very different world where the Internet played little or no role. Our relationship with technology was different, and the relationships we maintained through technology were different. It is easy to classify the time we spend on the Internet the same as that we spent before our video games or television as kids, but there is more to the Internet than entertainment and "killing time." Last time this came up, another blogger shared some interesting thoughts about her blog as a ministry and how she couldn't just walk away even though it was sometimes a lot of work. This left me thinking about the time I spend here in a little different way. It all comes back to a question of purpose. What is the Internet for and why am I here? And do these purposes line up with the godly woman I strive to become?

I believe the Internet has essentially two purposes:
  1. It allows a certain connectivity with information and with people not available in other ways.
  2. It allows us to substitute readily available diversions for necessary human interactions which seems to be disappearing in American life.
As I evaluate my time spent on the Internet, it isn't so much about absolute hours spent. After all, I use the Internet for a lot more than entertainment. But I also have no television, no newspaper and have difficulty listening to the radio which means that my primary source for news and information is the Internet. I write my own curriculum for our homeschool and my primary source of information and materials is the Internet. Extended family lives in other states and one means of sharing bits and pieces about our lives is through the Internet. Homeschoolers represent a very small percentage of the population and one way I stay connected with the homeschooling community and the issues which affect us is through the Internet.

And when I'm upset with my husband, frustrated with the children or discouraged by the events of my life, I find some distraction in the Internet.

That is when I find myself surfing aimlessly. That is when I find myself checking the same sites repeatedly. That is when I thoroughly waste my time in idleness. It is also the most difficult to control. Because I'm angry and not particularly in any "mood" to take control.

The Internet is also convenient. If I forget to print off something, it isn't that big of a deal to hop online and print it off. And while I'm waiting, I may as well check email...and soon another half hour has gone by.

To me, it isn't so much a matter of finding balance, but of maintaining a purpose. To do this, I'm resurrecting my notebook. That little bit of blogging help I began using some time ago to help me remember my stellar bloggable thoughts that normally escape me once I enter my username and password. And I think I may use it a little more, as in writing down what it is I actually need to do when I sit down here at my desk.

And for some reason, finding purpose seems to be a running theme in my thoughts and blogging.