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The Internet Trap

It was said before and it may be repeated with no fear of mistake, the Internet brought to us the EF world - Easy and Fun - Efficient and Fast. We work, play, learn and shop on the web – not necessarily in that order of priority. We have access to worlds of information and possibilities that generations before us could not even start to imagine. Aren’t we - the children of the 21st century - the most privileged and luckiest bunch in history so far? Well, the answer is worthy of some elaboration. Home alone If you are a citizen of the developed world – and statistics show that many other regions are catching up on the Internet front – you probably manage your finances and much other personal business on-line. The financial institutions surely want you to do so because it is cheaper for them. Most day-to-day transactions (and some complex ones) are available to you 24/7, from the comfort of your home. You no longer have to spend time and calories or gas in order to attend to your banking needs. Instead, you have to own and maintain a computer (and your fair share of peripherals); buy and install connection gear of some sort; pay for the Internet connection; buy, install and keep up with all sorts of security patches and upgrades; buy, install and keep up the anti-virus software; purchase a comfortable chair and voilà! In a few seconds, your transaction is done. Unless you succumb to other attractions (of a financial nature or otherwise) that pop up on your monitor uninvited, you can then move on to the next company you do business with. However, by this time the appeal of an online service touting expediency and efficiency of a transaction has turned our few seconds into minutes – even hours. Working on the Web A similar convenience – and trap - is extended to many of us in the work place. Typically, the same financial institution that has a mesmerizing website for its customers will also have a vast intranet where its employees can see the latest corporate news and announcements, manage their benefits or their profiles for various internal business applications, take part in forums, and so on. Everything can now be done on-line, where before, one would have to call various people in other departments, ask and walk around and waste precious production time in the process. But while many tasks related to corporate procedures are now downloadable as do-it-yourself web or intranet applications, little thought has been given to providing time allowances and time-on-web management skills. No wonder that Internet and email abuse has become a problem to the extent that companies may no longer have a net gain in productivity attributable to these technologies. It is also amazing that, based on anecdotal evidence and personal experience, knowledge workers do not spend less time working thanks to the various web-enabled applications; overall, they spend more time working - and are expected to spend even more. Words for the wise So, how can one avoid the Internet trap – at home and at work? Be aware that the trap is there that’s all. Be aware that a lot is being downloaded to you under the EF disguise and all of it cumulatively can ultimately encroach upon your time, budget and health. My advice is to remain focused on the task. Do what you have to do and get out quickly. Don’t get sidetracked. Understand that most commercial websites and web-based businesses are not necessarily designed with only your best interests in mind. Do your math, and do not pay for the wonderful convenience that an online service provides with more of your time than it is really worth to you.