You hear, from time to time, about how our attention span is waning. That social media and the internet in general is training us for quick hits of entertainment, bite size, to consume furtively at the desk at work, or to make sure you watch/read to the end when the entirety of your ‘news’ feed and ‘The Internet’ is there at your fingertips, just a click away. Even that sentence seemed long, didn’t it? It’s a smorgasbord and our tastes demand variety, change. To make it to the end of an article or blog post or five minute video can be a challenge, regardless of interesting or well-constructed it is.
This is a difficult post for me to write, because I’m so incredibly guilty of this myself. It’s something I’m unsuccessfully trying to train myself out of. That an article on a topic I can spend most of the day thinking about is difficult to read because the author had the audacity to make it 1000 words. And all of that other stuff is there, waiting for me. Look! Look! LOOK!
Hang on, but what about what I’m actually supposed to be doing? What about that ISBN I opened the web browser to find? How did I even end up on Facebook? I don’t remember clicking the bookmark button, just like I don’t remember what I came here for in the first place.
This is one of the main reasons I don’t like reading books digitally on my tablet. Social media and THE WORLD just a swipe away. All I need is a stray thought or a slow paragraph and suddenly fifteen minutes have gone and where was I up to again?
Even physical books have their downfall when phones beep every time someone so much as looks in your direction online. And if reading a book is that prone to distractions, then think about writing one. I think about writing one all the time, but where did my morning go? Oh that’s right, I just spent three hours watching movie trailers on IMDB.
I know this post isn’t really achieving much, but I guess it’s here as me processing my thoughts on how distractible we are these days (Read: how distractible I am these days). And while I feel I’m a lot better than I used to be, I’m still very aware of how much time I waste with the internet pouring into my face and not much to show for it. In all honesty, I think that’s partially why I started this blog. Yes, this is not the creative-writing-working-on-my-novel that perhaps I should be doing. But it is a focused writing exercise which I am doing instead of re-reading my Facebook feed for the twentieth time, just in case something else has popped up that I missed before. Thank goodness I haven’t got my head around twitter…
And speaking of focused writing exercises, I recently saw THIS in my aforementioned Facebook feed. It’s designed to make you stick to your writing or beware the consequences! It’s a bit of fun, if not nerve wracking, and while I really couldn’t write a novel using it, it’s a good exercise in free-writing. I only wrote for five minutes to give it a try so I started writing nonsense and it turned into a fun nonsense story.
In any event, what all of this boils down to is I am becoming more aware of my own goldfish moments (as their known in our house) and most of all aware of my own time wasting. It’s not going to stop instantaneously, but I think self-awareness is a good step. I’ve started asking myself, ‘Do I need to watch this video?’ Sometimes, the answer is still yes, but there are quite a few puppies and kittens crying in the world because I didn’t add to their view count. Another thing I’ve noticed recently is those links people share that are phrased like this: ‘You won’t believe what happened when this man got his watermelon home from the supermarket!’ See. You want to know now, don’t you? But do you really NEED to know about other people’s groceries? I’ve actively limited myself to only clicking on those which are clearly on topics I’m particularly interested in, which usually is just book related posts and LGBTQ issues. Even this small victory over persuasively worded click-bait makes me feel like I’m moving in the right direction.
So, how did you go? Did you read all 809 words of my post? I don’t blame you if you didn’t. How can my ramblings compete with endless amounts ‘content’ on one hand, and genuine commitments or something constructive on the other? I make this promise to you though, when I press save now, I will go and work on my novel. I will seize the eternal now.