So, it’s been pretty busy around here lately. School routines to re-establish, freelance work to get cracking on, lunchboxes to be made, laundry to be done (always!), swimming lessons to attend, blah blah blah, you know the drill… Sometimes I feel like I barely have enough time to scratch myself and YET… somehow there’s always time to get sucked into the Vortex of Internet Time Wastage (VOITW), a real and frightening place where many hours a week (a day?) can be lost.
How does this happen? It is indeed one of life’s great mysteries, but it usually seems to stem from the brain’s decision (I like to blame it on the brain, then it doesn’t seem like my fault) to ‘take a quick break’ from the task at hand. Next thing I know, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, only to emerge in a daze some considerable time later in a completely different place to where I started, wondering where/who/why I am and where the day’s disappeared to.
Here are the main places I find myself on these mystical, magical journeys into the VOITW…
1. Real estate sites
Yes, we are looking at buying a house this year. MUCH LATER this year. Which seems to have given me the perfect justification to scroll aimlessly and endlessly through realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, looking at places I’ve been looking at constantly for the last two months (nothing happens in real estate over summer, trust me, I KNOW). Not just looking, mind you, but mentally planning which walls I’ll be knocking out, what tiles I would put in the kitchen and whether it’s possible to go up another storey. You know, for the teenage retreat that we won’t need for about ten years.
2. Social media
Well, duh. It’s more like a Black Hole than a vortex, really. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and if you’re younger and hipper than me, Snapchat and other things I’m unfamiliar with) have untapped potential to lure you away from whatever it is you should be doing, with their endless news feeds that you could scroll through forever and NEVER GET TO THE BOTTOM OF and ample opportunities to veer off on time-wasting tangents. A ‘like’ here, a ‘favourite’ there, a comment elsewhere, a gawp at a vague acquaintance’s holiday snaps… it’s never-ending! The added benefit is that they allow you to feel all fuzzy and connected while you whittle your life away in front of your computer.
3. Online clothes shopping
I’m sure there are people out there who are very good at buying clothes online. I’m very good at scrolling slowly through rows and rows of gorgeous models, trying to work out which clothes might look good on me and wouldn’t require trying on, making a list of my favourites, then deciding at the end that I can’t really afford it/wouldn’t have any occasion to wear it/can’t be sure that it would fit over my ample bosom and walking away with nothing. So why was I bothering to look in the first place? Ask someone who has a clue…
4. Clicking on silly boxes at the bottom of pages
You know the ones. Don’t pretend you don’t. You’re on a vaguely respectable site, reading a vaguely worthy article, then you get to the bottom and get lured in by a completely click-baity headline like ‘Celebrities you had no clue had died’ or ‘These pics of animals hugging will make your day!’ and you find yourself painstakingly clicking through them one by one, trying to get to the juicy pic that they reeled you in with… WHICH IS OFTEN NEVER THERE. How is that allowed?
5. Watching videos on YouTube
What is it about cat videos? And I’m also a sucker for singing videos with titles like ‘Amazing 4-year-old’s version of Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ will blow your mind!’. And the killer is, you play one, then they have all these other similar ones lined up to tempt you with. Damn these crafty websites and their clever ploys to keep us in the VOITW!
6. Food and recipe pages
This is a tricky one, because you’re there under the guise of actually doing something useful, such as feeding your family. But then it’s all too easy to deviate away from the task at hand to just looking for the sake of it, admiring the pretty pictures, saying to yourself, ‘ooh, doesn’t that look yummy’ before moving on to the next one. Pointless, mindless… and yet seemingly irresistible.
Are you a regular visitor to the VOITW? What are your favourite time-wasting sites du jour?