Blogging, Drinking, Facebook, Pornography, Reader Polls, Shopping, Social Media, Social Networking Websites, Technology, Video games

Ways and Means of Mass Distraction

Thoreau admonished us that we cannot “kill time without injuring eternity.” But what did he know? That proto-hippie pond-fetishist could not have imagined today’s world, where our collective attention spans have shriveled to goldfish levels and so much actual productive white-collar labor can be, to an observer, indistinguishable from simply loitering in front of a computer screen. Unless someone is looking over your shoulder, nobody knows whether you’re on PACER or playing Angry Birds.

We asked you, the ATL readership, where you turn for distraction when you don’t feel like billing or studying. The results of our research poll, after the jump….

Respondents’ preferred online time wasters coalesced into eight distinct categories: Above the Law, News, Sports, Games, Shopping, Gossip, Porn, and Social Media. Here is a look at their relative popularity:

A few observations, along with the top sites in some of the categories:

• “Social Media” is the dominant mode of digital distraction. ATL readers are apparently pulling their weight in the 700 billion minutes Earthlings currently spend on Facebook every month.

• Hi, sports fans. The most popular (non-ATL or social media) site is espn.com. No surprise there, The World Wide Leader is practically the default distraction for (non-bonobo) bros.

• In other non-shocking news, nytimes.com was the runaway leader in the general news category. Otherwise, social (e.g., reddit.com) or personalized (Google News) sources dominated the category.

• ATL readers don’t appear to politicize their slacking. Beyond two citations of realclearpolitics.com, no other explicitly political (or partisan) sites or blogs came up.

Words with Friends was the top choice in Games. Free Alec Baldwin!

The Denton Empire has a solid foothold among lawyers and law students. A range of Gawker Media properties were cited by respondents: obviously Gawker (top site in the Gossip category), as well as Lifehacker, Deadspin, and Jezebel.

• Speaking of Gawker, The Awl, the unclassifiable and brilliant creation of these two Gawker alumni, received multiple mentions.

• Although we did not explicitly limit responses to online pursuits, out of the 600+ respondents, a grand total of TWO chose an activity based in meatspace as their preferred time waster. The activities? “Intercourse” and “TV & booze,” of course.

• Four percent of you prefer porn as your go-to time waster. Let’s just pretend that’s plausible and move on.

• This was surprising: only one (1) reader admitted to “looking for a job” in his online “me time.”

• Happy New Year, everyone!

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