Paul Graham has an excellent article on factors that create distractions, especially the computer, as he points out:
TV is in decline now, but only because people have found even more addictive ways of wasting time. And what’s especially dangerous is that many happen at your computer. This is no accident. An ever larger percentage of office workers sit in front of computers connected to the Internet, and distractions always evolve toward the procrastinators.
The worst aspect of computer based distractions, whether its just plain old browsing or checking the status of your friends on social networking websites is that, its become a seamless experience, because we can do it right in the middle of anything we were doing and it still doesn’t feel like it, as he explains:
Another reason it was hard to notice the danger of this new type of distraction was that social customs hadn’t yet caught up with it. If I’d spent a whole morning sitting on a sofa watching TV, I’d have noticed very quickly. That’s a known danger sign, like drinking alone. But using the Internet still looked and felt a lot like work.
One thing that Paul doesn’t take on directly is the effect of social networking and video sharing websites on encouraging procrastination. To me, they are the single biggest source of addiction for the masses hooked on to the web. What’s even more scary is that increasingly, social networking sites are becoming defacto start pages compared to search engines.
Oh, did I tell you I’m writing this because the mail/calendering client at work, an universally recognized pathetic piece of $hit called Lotus Notes just hung up, prompting me to discard what I was doing and, guess what? I got distracted enough to write a blog entry about it.