A Rant

No toy, this . . .It's true. I spend an inordinate amount of time staring at computer screens, and it's been that way for at least 20 years. On its face, the insinuation seems harmless enough, and the facts support it. What bothers me isn't the statement about how I spend my time; what bothers me is the distorted view of the activity that's taking place. If I were spending all my time playing games, hanging out in chat rooms, or downloading MP3 tracks, I might agree with my accusers. But my computers have always been, to me, information appliances used to feed my head, and to communicate. They're tools, not toys.

The way I see it, I wouldn't be getting this kind of flak if I were, say, making furniture on a lathe. "Jeff spends far too much time at that lathe" isn't a phrase I would be likely to hear. If I were using a GPS receiver for surveying, I doubt I'd hear people say, "Jeff spends far too much time with that GPS receiver." Building houses? Same thing. "Jeff spends way too much time with that circular saw." I don't think so. I could go on, but you get the idea. My computer is a tool, and although it's certainly possible to spend too much time with one's tools, I just don't believe I'd be hearing about it if the tool were anything but a computer.

Admittedly, the situation has improved somewhat over the years. Computers aren't the novelty items they once were, so I have more company now. And I'm sure a big part of the problem has to do with statistical averages. After all, people do use their computers for a variety of pursuits that have nothing to do with gathering knowledge, especially when they aren't at work. I see this as a good thing. Computers can be used for an impressive variety of things, and besides, all work and no play makes Jack fall off the beanstalk. Or words to that effect.

Nevertheless, it would be gratifying if, every once in a while, my accusers would stop and think for a moment about what might really be going on here. It would be grand if, now and then, someone would separate the activity from the object used to accomplish it. Just an idea.



  1. Excellent rant! I agree wholeheartedly!

  2. Anonymous5:22 PM UTC

    It's good to know I'm not suffering alone.