Tools vs Toys

This morning I read a rather scathing point by point critique of FaceBook. The author of the review stated many negative impacts on relationships, productivity, and general quality of life. And the author was right. But it isn’t quite as simple as that, because for many people, FaceBook IS a great evil, and a detraction from living – a time sucker which contributes nothing positive to their lives, interferes with real relationships, and can feed addictions that leave a person nothing more than body in the chair that takes but never gives. For others, it enhances positive communications and allows them to accomplish specific necessary goals.

The same can be said for computers in general, cell phones, television sets, and other technology. It can either be a great evil, or a benefit in the lives of those who use them.

So what’s the difference?

Some people use FaceBook, computers, and other technology as a Tool. They use them to make business easier, to create useful or necessary things, and to communicate in ways that move their useful goals forward.

Other people use these things as Toys. They play. And that is ALL they do. Now there’s nothing wrong with a little play to leaven the lump, but when life becomes about Play, to the exclusion of work and real relationships, it is a serious problem.

My computer is a tool. I occasionally play a game of Solitaire or Mahjongg to give my mind a rest from intensive work. I have fun with networking, but use it mostly for developing business relationships and keeping up with some extended family. I honestly don’t get how people can spend hours a day at it.

Social networking and gaming both, are things that can eat up hours and hours of time, and leave nothing to show for it. Who really cares in a year whether you got the high score or not, or whether you found a cute little fish in your Happy Aquarium? It didn’t add to the substance of your life, it just sucked out some time in which you could have been doing something of value.

Many of my business associates find that they sort of get lost with social networking for a while. They have a hard time zeroing in in the tasks that help their business, while reducing the time drain of the things that are just peripheral fluff. But for successful use of social networking for business, it is essential that you figure out which things benefit you, and which things just take time.

When you use a computer and the internet for a Tool, you pay attention to the effectiveness of how you are spending your time. Yes, I know, that was an incredibly awkward sentence!

If something takes a lot of time, but doesn’t really help your business, or your life in a way that enhances your efficiency or your most important relationships, then it is time to take out the machete and do some aggressive thinning.

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