As a college student, I see the negative effects of technology every day. I watch as those around me walk around texting, as my peers fill their time with video games, as a few DTH readers spend way too much friggin' time commenting on our articles, as people get wrapped up in their digital worlds while real life carries on around them.
Take DTH commenters, for example. The average comment length is, let’s speculate, about 50 words — and that’s a low-end estimate. Given that the average person types about 40 words per minute, it takes one minute and 15 seconds to comment once. Of course, there is some time spent thinking of what will be said before typing begins, but based on the arguments that arise in our comment sections that time appears to be minimal at best, so we’ll stick with one minute and 15 seconds per comment. At one minute and 15 seconds per comment and about five comments per day — another lowball number, but I’m feeling generous — we’re already looking at six minutes and 15 seconds on commenting alone. Add on checking back every now and then to read others’ comments and that number is probably close to 10 minutes.
Of course, all of this is without the act of actually reading the articles. While some commenters skip this part and head right on to expressing their anger with the author, our more conscientious commenters, at an average reading speed of 250 words per minute and an average article length of about 500 words, probably spend around two minutes reading the article, plus an extra minute reading it again to see if the writer ACTUALLY JUST SAID THAT. Three minutes an article times three articles a day equals nine minutes spent reading articles.
Adding it all together, our most dedicated commenters go out of their way to spend about 20 minutes a day getting mad about what a bunch of college kids have to say and then letting us know how mad they are and, often, how stupid we are for disagreeing with them. Twenty minutes, five days a week is a whole hour and 40 minutes that’s spent in front of a computer screen instead of with friends, children, spouses; hundreds of hours a year spent online instead of in the real world experiencing life.