How much does the average person scroll per day? This is exactly what I happened to be wondering early this morning. As if there is nothing better to do, when in fact it is indeed an interesting question to pose, one whose proper calculated answer has certain unexpected implications on the way we manage our daily lives.
If we assume that one computer screenfull represents about half a page, and a good reading speed is a couple hundred pages a day, then we have about four hundred scrolls.
However, reading a computer display is definitely something completely different from reading a book, because most of the time is spent skimming around quickly and clicking randomly. We scroll while not reading, as the eyes are easily averted to this and that.
No one reads anymore like we learned way back in elementary school. Sit down and casually read a book chapter, a quiet park bench in front of the lake? You must be kidding.
Take two. Now I will use myself as an experimental humanoid performing forefinger gymnastics on the mouse wheel. Roll, roll, roll, click, roll. Within one minute, I have moved through cyberspace with the mouse nearly twenty times, each poke of the wheel scrolling down ten lines or so. That's 200 lines per minute, or assuming an average of 40 lines per view, around five pages. Doesn't seem like that much to me.
However, spread this over a whole day. Five pages a minute equals three hundred pages an hour equals two thousand four hundred computer pages per working day. Then we go home and use up all our free time on the computer surfing the Internet. Another thousand computer pages easy.
Imagine taking that same distance and having to crawl it on your hands and knees.
So this experiment has been pretty much completed. The conclusion is simple yet powerful. We scroll through roughly thirty-five hundred pages per day, which is thirty-five hundred multiplied by twenty-five centimeters per vertical screen, which comes to 87,500 centimeters. In other words, a little over half a mile.
I am not sure how accurately this reflects reality, but that is not the point. The point is that each and every one of us is scrolling our lives away without even realizing it.