Friday, 27 August 2010

Coffee Break: The Internet - Good, Bad or Ugly?

Good morning Racers! How are we all this fine Friday morning? I hope it finds you well and raring to go! I’ve got a selection of teas, coffees, water and other beverages plus different snacks so please help yourself as we settle down for another coffee break.

For those who might be a little confused. I’m Rebecca Stonebridge - although most of you will probably know me better under the host of pen names I’ve had through my years as a Novel Racer; A. Writer, Paige, The Secret Writer, Emily Tootsweet… I’m staying as Rebecca Stonebridge for now ;o)

The Internet. For me it’s both a devil and a godsend.

When I started writing many many moons ago, I wasn’t connected to the internet. Writing really was a solitary thing for me. I had my ideas for my novels and my laptop - that was it. I didn’t even have a desk. I just sat on my bed and wrote. Then I got the internet connected to my laptop. I started my first writing blog, which didn’t get many hits so I started a new one and slowly I started to mingle with other writers. I also joined the Novel Racers. If it wasn’t for the Novel Racers and the other writers I talked to online, I doubt I would still be writing. I don’t know any writers in ‘real life’ so meeting writers online has given me confidence to keep writing. The advice and support I’ve found online has helped me massively. And that is why I say the Internet is a godsend.

But there is also a downside. The internet is a devil because it just holds far too many distractions. If it’s not Facebook, it’s writing my blog, reading blogs or twittering on Twitter. I know for a fact that I faff about far too much on the internet for my own good. I need to learn to switch off the damn thing so I can get some work done.

Recently I’ve witnessed the bad side to the internet with people being bullied and spammed and it made me think about how much we use the internet and do we really need it? Could you live without the internet? Could you gladly smash up your modem and live a happy life or would your world fall apart without Facebook/Twitter/Blogs?

So my question today is: The Internet. Is it a godsend, a devil or a bit of both for you??

P.S. Can I just remind Racers that the idea of a NR meet has been mentioned? And if you pop on the ‘other blog’ we can discuss the when’s, the where’s and the who’s…


Annieye said...

Sorry to wake you up so early - I'll have tea, please. This is a brilliant post, Rebecca, and one which is worth me spending 15 or so minutes of my precious early morning writing time on!

I totally agree with everything you say. Facebook, particularly, can be an dangerous and evil internet tool. I have seen first hand what power it can wield. I know someone who has lost their job (in the police force) because of something they posted as a status and one of my kids had a horrific experience with someone they had accepted as a friend. This person started pestering them by phone and was bordering on physically stalking them. Fortunately, after changing their mobile phone number and 'unfriending' things seem to be OK now.

I think as long as you are careful the internet doesn't steal too much of your time and replace real relationships, it is a brilliant tool. For me, it gives me the friendship of other writers, both published and unpublished, and valuable tips and advice.

Spending hours on social networking sites is not real life, though, and never can be, but the internet is here to stay and we have to learn how to live with it instead of for it.

I've only just started twittering, since acquiring an i-phone, but a colleague warned me the other day that the 'IT police' where I work do try to find staff on twitter, and if tweets prove that staff have been twittering at work we could be disciplined. People have already been hauled over the coals for posting on FB on blackberrys and i-phones.

So, for me, unless I jack my job in, I'm afraid I must stay on the edges of the cyber world and use the time I spend online wisely. Time is the most precious thing we possess.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Without the internet I would never have been published. Only once have I actually printed out 400 pages and sent them off in real life. It was a small fortune I couldn't afford regularly -- even now I baulk at entering competitions and anthologies that require hard copies.

I also do a lot of online research. What might take me a three-day weekend to research an obscure fact from the dead sea scrolls at the british library now takes me a few minutes online.

Serendipity (Christine) said...

Tea please! Great post and topical for me. I've just returned from a holiday abroad leaving behind laptop and mobile phone and I loved it. I'm not so sure I would want to be without the internet as it is brilliant for research but it has made me definitely decide to give up Facebook etc - I calculated the time I'm on there and frankly, it could be more time for writing... :-)

Debs said...

I love the Internet especially for research and have spend many happy hours checking out information for my WiP.

However, I'm also on Facebook and Twitter and know that I seem to lose hours there that previously I'd spent writing. I do check my emails at work, but wouldn't look at Twitter or Facebook.

I do enjoy visiting other peoples blogs and have learnt so much about writing from the Internet, so all in all I do think it's a good thing, in moderation.

sheepish said...

Hi sorry I missed yesterday but we went to the coast so I could have a swim and to a large diy shop to buy some tiles[but thats another story] I should have gone on line to see if I could order the tiles!!!!
A very intersting topic. I think the internet is like the Curates Egg ...... 'good in parts' I find it very useful for research which living in France is not available to me in other ways. I also love the interaction of the Racers, also not available to me here, my French is good but not up to discussing the finer points of writing and reading.
I do not 'twitter' and only visit facebook very occasionally so blogging is my only social vice. I still manage to spend quite a lot of time wandering through the web.
The internet is the same as any other human invention, brilliant but open to subversion.

Karen said...

Sorry I'm late, got my mum staying!

Internet is good, good, good - but can be terribly distracting. It's brought my writing on in leaps and bounds - I'd go as far as to say I wouldn't have had any short stories published at all if I hadn't joined Story a Fortnight, so I'm indebted.

I haven't got into Facebook and Twitter so much, but still love connecting with people via my blog :o)

Denise said...

Sorry I'm late, had a couple of days away in the drizzle of Brighton :-)

I also think I've gained more than lost with the internet. I've met so many people, found out about courses and joined the novel racers. I do lose time with blogs and facebook, but a lot of the time that's also talking about writing. Hearing other people's successes and setbacks makes me feel part of a community that I'd rarely encounter elsewhere.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Days late. Distracted by all the shiny things on the internet. :-)

Despite the dark side the internet is a true lifeline for me. I'm virtually housebound these days and it is the only way I can keep in touch with people, do research (Google street view is excellent), buy books, buy some more books, oh yes and you can buy books. And, as already mentioned, it has revolutionised the way I work with my publishers.

Downside - the games (although I'm a better poker player than I ever was). But, did I mention, you can buy books.