10.20.2011

Simply Living: Day 20: Simply Distracted (Pt. 1)

It is a bit of a conundrum to make a post about the distractions of the internet when writing and publishing something on the internet, but recently it's really come to the forefront of my mind how much time I am not using effectively.  Before I say anything else, let me make very clear, I do not think the internet is evil. In fact, I think the internet serves its purpose of sharing and disseminating information and providing connections for people to information better than anything else we have ever known in this world. I think it can be an amazing tool.

I think that my problem is that I seldom use it as an amazing tool. I more often use it as a means to turn of my brain and mindlessly allow words, ideas and information to assault my thoughts as a sort of thought numbing stimulant.

I'll be completely transparent here and say that for me, internet use is the number one distraction in my life.

For a long time it's bothered me, but not to the point of doing anything to actually change my behaviors or my dependence on it, but recently, I realized how little I write any more. My reading was declining; my life was disorganized.  I decided that if I immersed myself in one more second of "life" in "real time" that my brain might actually cease to function at all as it once did.  After reading The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains, I realized that I was not far wrong.

Among other problems prolonged internet surfing can cause,  is the breakdown of ability to concentrate single mindedly for a period of time. Once the brain becomes used to distractions, it expects them and will send impulses for you to find some distractions to entertain it. Sustained concentration, even long enough to read a short article or blog, becomes less likely online and as the brain is a living organ that literally rewrites the way it works based on input and behaviors, this loss of focus and concentration begins to carry over into "real life."

My attention span shortened. My interactions became more superficial (best if I could limit them to 140 characters). My writing became sparse and choppy.  If I couldn't receive information in a concise byte then I wasn't interested. Slowly but surely, and certainly not consciously, everything became about how efficiently I could get what I wanted so I could move on to the next thing.

I really, really didn't like that about myself.

  • I missed my brain doing its slow work like mulling, pondering, and contemplating
  • I missed being lost in a daydream, watching the clouds drift, standing outside and breathing deeply for no other reason than the sheer pleasure of it
  • I missed taking the time to finish a job the first time no matter how long it took without wondering what I might be missing.
  • I missed being able to unitask instead of multitask
  • I was tired of my children having to wait while "I just check one more thing"
None of these characteristics are who I want to be or what I want my life to be remembered as. So, I began to make some slow, deliberate changes. You'll want to come back tomorrow for those.

1 comment:

Lorri said...

I was tired of my children having to wait while "I just check one more thing" . . . .. . Ouch! Hello, conviction.