Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Becoming the on-line autodidact/addict.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | November 5, 2018

No. 1,585


Autodidactism: self-education, self-teaching.

I just read another post on how to stop wasting your life browsing on the internet. It contained a lot of good ideas, like exercise, getting to know your family. Your mother probably suggested all of them by the time you were ten. Nothing new there.

Of course, wasting time didn’t start with the internet.  Before then we did (and still do) waste time watching television, listening to music and engaging to excess in other forms of entertainment. Even talking on the telephone can be a drug, making the smart phone a triple threat.

The problem is that these media are all addictive and we are weak. Willpower goes only so far. But there is an alternative to just giving in to Facebook.

You aren’t going to be able to completely renounce grazing on the internet. Nor should you. There’s a lot worth reading, but you have to look for it.  So, make your weakness a strength.  What do you call a positive addiction? You call it motivation.

The internet has become the world’s library. It contains everything you always wanted to know. And what have you always wanted to know?  It may take a while to come up with an answer.

Back in the old days, when formal education was scare and books were relatively rare and expensive, it was still possible, with great self-discipline, to give yourself a first-class education.  Alexander Hamilton taught himself to be an expert in the banking system by reading borrowed books. Lincoln made himself an expert on the legal issues surrounding slavery in the library.  Ray Bradbury developed his own higher education during the Depression by spending four years in the public library, studying literature and training to become a writer.

They did it the hard way.  We, on the other hand, have the world’s library in our pocket.  But the similarity is that, like these great autodidacts, we can train ourselves to be experts.  How long does that take?  Well, how many hours do you spend with social media?  Could it be three, four even five hours?  How much could you learn in that time period.  A lot.  Could you become an expert?  That depends on what you are studying and how diligent you are.

If you are prepared to get serious about such a project, keep a nightly journal of what you learn. I’ll bet you will be amazed.




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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