Thoughts On Distractedness
February 10th, 2010
I believe we should be conscious that every statement and most sentences we utter has the phrase 'I believe' invisibly appended to the front. With that, I'll continue. Edit: I Â a brilliant, comical example of this that appeared like a day after I posted this.
I believe we live in a world full of distractions. I had the privilege of sitting at the back row in my lecture today and every laptop in the lecture theatre visited Facebook at least once. Instead of reading (for leisure, in the pursuit of knowledge, both) I watched a film after dinner. Now that the film has ended it would be the perfect time to sit down and read, I've been trying to get through the mock-epic(?) novel Independent People by Haldór Laxness for months now and I'm barely half way through. I enjoy books but I'm a poor reader. Instead I spend hours perusing reddit and Facebook, but why?
I suppose the main reason is convenience, it's so much easier to sit in front of a screen, very much passively, slowly taking in whatever is being fed to me by the Top News stream or Recent Activity feed. Because these do not move at my own pace perhaps that is why it spurs me on? And it's got me thinking, would a device like the Amazon Kindle or iPad change this? It adds the convenience factor and both devices promise to offer easy readability (although I find the arc90 readability bookmarklet does a marvellous job on making things on the web easier to read).
What is the point of living in a distracted society? It seems to make sense from a work ethic, keep working and make money; keep consuming and keep buying. I believe we've tried this for a while and it's failed. They say in (post)modern times we live in a (post)consumerist society, (the post I suppose would mean that we're well aware of this?) but surely we always have? Consumerism has had such a large effect on me I can't really imagine any other way. Anyway, this is about distractions but this in itself is a good point. How are we meant to think of such things when we've got friends, happiness and such so nearby?
I am sure I am oversimplifying it, all the great thinkers had distractions; some shut these distractions out better than others. It just seems to be amplified and quicker now with the www. I heard a really great quote in episode 1 of the BBC documentary 'The Virtual Revolution' currently on iPlayer, Â Lee Seigel says, "Like all technology, the internet is not a cure for human nature, it's an amplification of human nature, both the good and the bad." The distractions become amplified online.
What are your views? Am I isolated in my thinking, do I make sense? Do you agree or disagree? It would be nice to know.