by Elise Seyfried
I do work hard in my office at church.
But you’d never know it to look at my browsing history on my computer.
Why, just the other day, after checking the weather (More spring snow predicted for Philly!!! Panic time!!!) and the news headlines (too depressing to recount), I checked out the following:
• Kate Middleton’s new maternity coat. (Just because).
• Top 10 things to do in Lombok. (My son Evan is trekking around the world. He just finished a hike through the Borneo jungles and is headed for the beach in Lombok, Indonesia. I’m all primed if he needs advice on which temples to visit.)
• Secret to Cleaning Gunky Kitchen Cabinets! (Mix vegetable oil and baking soda, and apply! Must try!)
• Fifth Avenue Apartment Sold for Record $77.5 million. (And here my two Brooklyn-based daughters are always looking for cool places to live! They just missed out!)
• Rachael Ray’s Spicy Lamb Sliders with Harissa. (Dinner this week. Extra Google search for what the heck harissa is).
• Holy Week, The Cross and Children. (Ah! At last! A web article that relates to my job!)
• 9 Ways to Make a Good Living as a Writer. (And I’m off track again!)
• Waxed Paper Stained Glass Butterfly Craft. (For church! For church! Back to it!)
• Kris Jenner, Momzilla. (Not exactly a Woman of the Bible, so…)
And so on. The World Wide Web is both paradise and pitfall for an ADHD sufferer like me. I never would have taken the time to go to the library and look all this stuff up when I was young, so I got a lot of actual work done in school. I would probably have been a straight-D student now (unless I could do a senior project on “Kris Jenner, Momzilla”). I grew up in the Dark Ages, prior even to dial-up. Remember dial-up? That strangled duck sound as we got connected? It was a nuisance because we couldn’t use our phones and be online at the same time. (Believe it or not, kids!) But now it’s all easy, too easy.
I try to peek only a couple of times per day, instead of clicking on one site after another, ad infinitum. But invariably, one view whets my appetite for more, and suddenly an hour has passed, and I’m still rating Lombok temples. And Evan hasn’t even asked me to do so!
I like to think I’m a good researcher, thoroughly investigating all sources when a topic piques my interest. It’s a shame that most of my interest-piquing topics have very little relevance to my daily life. (Seriously. When will I have a need to describe Kate Middleton’s maternity wear?) And the more I’m procrastinating about things I actually need to get done, the more fascinating my little detours become. It’s worse now that I have an iPhone. I can waste my time even when I’m NOT at my laptop, looking up this and that random thing. And it seems the rest of my family members are no slouches in this department, either. At the dinner table, it’s a race to see who can whip out his/her phone fastest to name all of Meryl Streep’s Oscar nominations, to discover the winners of the 2005 World Series. We used to rely on our brains to recall these facts. No need now! As long as there’s wi-fi, we can know it all in a few seconds!
The Pandora’s Box that is the internet has been opened, and there’s no going back. No more bookshelves laden with dust and dated volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica for me. The world of knowledge is at my fingertips 24/7, so I need some more self-discipline. The next time someone asks me the name of Stephen King’s first book or even for directions to the mall, I will actually stop and think about it. And I will probably answer incorrectly, but at least I will have tried to figure it out on my own.
Meanwhile, let me just check out the guy who sued Pizza Hut when he broke his tooth on a crouton. Then I’ll get right to work.
Elise Seyfried is Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland. She is also an actress, wife, mother of five and co-author (with husband, Steve) of 15 plays for children. She is also the author of a self-published book, “Unhaling: On God, Grace and a Perfectly Imperfect Life,” a collection of essays, humorous but with a spiritual focus, based on her life as a mom and church worker. The book can be purchased for $15 plus shipping through www.eliseseyfried.com. (Also from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble bn.com, although they add an extra charge.)