Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stop and smell the Roses

Paraphrasing T. S. Eliot, we are becoming 'distracted from distraction by distraction.'  And it is a worrying trend. All the world is a stage, and there are no players. People are much more content doing everything and nothing at the same time. Children and adults alike have no attention spans any more. Fewer people can sit and be content reading long news articles, much less novels. And this ADHD society we live in is only getting worse. It's not like people don't have the ability to focus, it's that we're being marketed to death by the masterminds of distraction.

Every new gadget, be it the iphone, flat screen HD TVs, and every new program, from leopard to random applications for PDAs are pulling us away from reality. Some may argue, and perhaps successfully, that with the technology and information age that we are becoming closer, more cohesive, and we can absorb much more information than the past.  But, many new studies are proclaiming that we are being stretched too thin psychologically.  I read this article in the London times about it.  Turns out multi-tasking, which is the expectation and the most praised thing in modern society, is bunk. When you attempt to multi-task, you do a whole bunch of things poorly, as opposed to one thing at a time well. You are not more productive, you're not saving your company money, or making things easier on yourself, your family, your friends or co-workers. It comes down to distraction.

You get tons of emails, phone calls, text messages, and talk to people daily. You try to respond as best you can, but rarely take the time needed to do something thoroughly. We are all guilty of this. Social networking sites, (as cool as they are, and as much as I use them) can degrade and submerge the quality of our social interaction, and our ability to gather and retain useful information. We become so often caught up in the storms of gossip and banter that we idle our lives away while not gaining much more than superficial pleasure and a relief from our self-induced boredom. 

Life is exciting. There are great books to read, projects that need to be done in the yard, games to be played with sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, and every task deserves its own time and a high level of attention to be done well. I have always been and avid supporter of stopping and smelling the roses, breathing in the air, getting away from the world to understand it. If we can't take the time to digest our world, we'll just keep vomiting, getting sicker and sicker until we starve. We need to know the foundations that made what we have now possible. Works of art, literature, philosophy, science, and long books, trips, and talks are all important. We shouldn't give in to the whirling, spinning, superficiality and trendiness that is fleeting. I call for us to stop and smell the roses, and maybe, buy a few, or start our own rose garden.


And, on another note, I leave for Brazil tomorrow, and my friend will be taking over for the next two weeks. I do this because I practice what I preach. It's time for a break. I love you all. Ask me to bring you back something, and I'll do my best (no promises).

Picture taken from this site.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ian, have a great trip!

Michael Powers said...