Last year, I made a New Year's resolution of sorts to "master the internet". I was going to explore, seek out the newest apps and tools to make life easier, and embrace the change from old school to digital. I've made some progress, but in the end, I'm not sure that's what I'd call it.
I did go about searching for new ways to up my efficiency. I quickly found myself addicted to feedly to help weed out interesting articles from all the sources I wouldn't have time to sort through myself. I have become completely dependent on Evernote – I use it to do everything from organizing information at the office to saving grocery lists to bookmarking yet more interesting articles to read later. And IFTTT now automatically sends photos I'm tagged in on Facebook to my iPhone so I always have them at my fingertips. In short, I've successfully started using these tools to make my life more convenient. So why don't I feel like I'm gaining much?
All this "efficiency" is stressing me out. Every morning I wake up to literally hundreds of articles, stories, news bulletins, and more that pique my interest. Try as I might to bookmark the ones those I'm most curious about, I can't seem to keep up with actually reading them. Granted, the variety of options I now cull from is greatly expanded, but what good is that when I can barely scratch the surface? I'm overwhelmed by all my options and probably no better read than before.
What's more, I find myself missing paper. About 6 months ago, I took the plunge and bought a Kindle. I've always been someone who loves books and those little joys that come with the physical interactions with them – the feeling of curling up on a couch and realizing six hours later you've been sucked into a story and the requisite thumb cramp you get from holding open that book for so long. Now I have hundreds of book options at my fingertips (and they're even cheaper than the paperbacks!), but I'm not sure I'm any better off. There's no way I can catch up, and even when I finish a book there isn't the satisfaction of the easing of the thumb cramp or being able to pull a book off a shelf to lend to a friend.
So now comes the inevitable reflection: do I think it was worth it? Yes. I've expanded my horizons, I've joined the 21st century, and most of all, I found out a little bit about what's important to me. I love Evernote – being able to keep all my thoughts simultaneously in one place and yet organized is a revelation. I love not having to remember to save Facebook photos to my own computer in order not to lose them. And I think I'm coming to terms with the idea that I'll never be able to read everything I want. It's even a little freeing – if I can't keep up, I'm sure no one else can either. In the end, with or without technological innovations, we'll all just have to keep on pretending we've read that one New Yorker article people are talking about. Just nod and smile, my friends. Nod and smile.