THE TECH AGE: Lead Us Not Into Distraction
On November 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

With smartphones, laptops, tablets and the like, we feel a need to be constantly connected to the Internet, or to something or someone. Have you ever accidentally left your phone at home? In utter panic, you break into a cold sweat. Your lifeline has been cut.

Presumably with a smartphone, you are in perpetual contact with the news, your friends, family, your loved ones, your not-so-loved ones, and even people you don’t know and have no real interest in meeting. You can follow people or friend them (btw, friend as a verb is apparently not a Facebook invention), post stuff to Twitter, FB, Snapchat, Instagram etc. etc., search online for stuff, shop, buy stuff, watch videos, vines, gifs, and stuff. Our phones may be smart, but I don’t think they’re making us any smarter or more efficient. I fear they might actually be making us stupider, and I’m convinced it’s all just one Big Distraction.

Creative writing while distracted

This morning, while supposedly writing this post, between 8:15 and 9:00 I managed to put down only the above two lines: “Our phones may be smart, but I don’t think they’re making us any smarter or more efficient. I fear they might actually be making us stupider, and I’m convinced it’s all just one Big Distraction.” During that interval, I was responding to texts and emails, one of which was a Black Friday/Thursday promo thingy. So I spent some time looking at those deals and bought a couple things. Then I tried to get back to writing the post, but on the way to shutterstock.com for stock photos, I read a couple of articles on bbc.com. Trump mocks disabled reporter. Really? Not surprising. Why did I even bother to read the article? Meanwhile, my phone buzzes every minute when there’s a Twitter post. What’s this Revolution Radio that posts every 4 minutes? I have to unfollow them. Which reminds me, I didn’t post on Twitter yet today. Another couple of emails, one from LA Fitness warning me to update my payment information or become persona non grata. Let me take care of that now. Hmm, Revolution Radio still posting. Now I have to actually block them…Email from KPCC, Happy Thanksgiving. That’s nice, but I need to get back to my post. And to the 5th Darko novel I’m working on, Death By His Grace. I absolutely, seriously must write a few pages today. For that, I will use a nifty app called Freedom, which disconnects me from everything for a period of my choosing…okay, you know what, Twitter? I’m uninstalling you. This is ridiculous. Now, where was I?

Working while distracted

Stroll through the average workplace and observe how many people are Internet surfing on their desktops and/or texting/streaming on their phones. Sure, you can multi-task at work and get things done by the end of the day, right? You’ve got an agile mind, right? Unfortunately, multi-tasking might be doing more harm than good, no matter what your teenager says.

Distracted socializing

Ever chat with someone while s/he is glued to his/her phone screen? Actually, almost everyone with a phone has done this at some point. Watch friends or family at a table in a coffee shop and you’ll see it. The other day I passed a cafe where a man and his eight (or so) year old son were seated at a sidewalk table. The dad was texting away and paying no attention to his boy. None of my business, I suppose, but it seemed like a lost opportunity for this man to bond with his son. More hilariously, I was once on a train on the way to Florence where four Italian friends in facing seats were laughing and talking–but not with each other. They were all on their phones. On the Nov 27, 2015, edition of The Newshour, Sherry Turkle talks to Jeffrey Brown of The Newshour about how our cell phones are silently disrupting our social lives.

Walking while distracted

When we text while walking (TWW) our attention to our surroundings becomes severely curtailed.

Pratfalls might be amusing to watch online,

but TWW is truly hazardous and invariably embarrassing.

Distracted driving

Texting while driving (TWD) is the ultimate danger in distracted human activity. According to one website, the maximum amount of time one can look away from the road while driving is about two seconds, but five seconds is about the minimal time one takes to perform a text. In that time at 55 mph, you will cover the length of a football field without looking at the road. The results can be terrible to lethal.

And now I must get back to writing my novel, and you, having spent more precious moments of your life on this post, can get back to whatever else you were doing on the Internet.