“Culture of Distraction”


My favorite parts:
– “The more you train your brain to pay attention to distractions, the more you get distracted and the less able you are to even focus for brief periods of time” Dang, I was getting proud of the way I multi-task, but this is not good!
– “How many times, guys, have you been barked at by your wife because instead of giving full attention to what she was saying, you were looking at your phone.” I’m even more terrible because Boy doesn’t bark at me and all I’m doing is harvesting mushrooms.
– “You’re eating lunch with a friend and they excuse themselves to the restroom. A gap. Now, you pull our your phone because being unstimulated makes you feel anxious.” TOO TRUE; oh you’re going to the bathroom? Time to sweep some mines!
– “It would be so nice if I could just say that the solution is to stop using your devices. But […] 1. these devices do have real value […] 2. it would be like telling that over-developed upper-body bodybuilder to stop working out. Make your chest and back scrawny so that it’s in balance with your legs…” I like that he is not looking to just stop this madness, but build on top of it.
– “Besides taking a break from distraction, another step is to ACTIVELY TRAIN your long-form attention and mindfulness.” Like meditation. This is tricky though, because Minesweeper is similar to meditation in my brain.. I think.
– “[In 10 years] people are going to be even more distracted, even more unable to pay attention to things for any length of time. Even less able to tolerate boredom. Even less able to pay attention to one another. […]constantly seeking out mindless stimulation.”

It’s something we all know — yeah yeah, we as a people are getting worse, socially and in intelligence and productivity, because of our smartphones — but I liked the way this Joe Kraus presented it. The predicted future is frighteningly familiar (“Idiocracy” UGH) and his conclusion is simple yet points to a very scary problem of Terrible Parents of the USA. Responsible adults better stop taking the Pill and start making non-crazy People of the Future. But these problems deserve another post.

I am lucky that I grew up without too much nonsensical stimulation. My taste-buds do not like wacko sugar drinks and I hate TV and its commercials because they are so noisy. But oh I love my phone. Boy is surprisingly the opposite of a distracted person and I admire him for it. His thoughts are really intense and in-depth and confusing to me because they go back to The Bigger Picture all the time and I’m like, “Whoa, how did it get all that intense! We were just looking at a billboard!” He could not see the point of one of my App games (me neither, but it was like Tamagotchi and had colors and food to feed them so it was cute?) and so he hated when I was on it at least once an hour.

I’ve been cultivating the quieter me these days, I hope it can catch up soon. I started Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls because it was sitting on a table at a friend’s house, but he was still in the midst of it, so he gave me A Farewell to Arms, also Hemingway. Books!! I am going to borrow Lucky Jim by Kinglsey Amis from some library. Apparently it is a comedy that is as laugh-out-loud hilarious as Catch-22. Yee!

I think writing this counts as an act of focused thought as well. +1 pt for that, only 9999 to go!


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