Talking to myself about... distractions

December 1, 2013

Talking to myself about... distractions

There seem to be too many of them these days. Everybody is complaining about being distracted all the time. I really don’t know what they mean. Probably what they mean is their attention gets diverted on to things they don’t want to focus on. That sounds quite silly. To say they can’t focus on things they actually want to is silly, what else. Also, it makes them unhappy without a reason.

Distractions are necessary, extremely important I would say. They are the only way to live your life -- fully.

Let’s for a moment stop and think what is ‘a’ distraction. It is only the brain prioritising what it wants us to do at a particular time. If we could just ignore the profound sense of purpose, of duty, that convinces us there is one thing that requires our focus and the rest is all distraction, we’d be much more relaxed I tell you.

So, in effect, we’re not losing focus. We’re just shifting it to something else that we decide to call ‘distraction’ and then are made to feel guilty about it.

A lot of it has to do with technology, people say. Internet corrupts and, in an ironic twist, solves people’s problems too. It distracts and then tells us how to keep away from these distractions and bring discipline (that cursed word) to our lives. These self-help articles (on internet, mind you!) count among usual distractions the gadgets around us, mobile phones, laptops, email notifications, Twitter and Facebook statuses and so on. The remedy they suggest is to switch them off.

Ah, but who wants to switch off the pleasurable distraction in their lives!

Technology as a source of distraction needs to be ‘problematised,’ I guess. It is said to seduce and tempt one, but to what end? Not to technology, per se. All it does is to take you to a realm of content which is more tempting that anything else. It gets you to see, read, think, read more, think more, judge, analyse, learn, express, interact…

Now, the interaction part is pitched as a problem because it is said to be more virtual than real. But I see it as a solution that man has evolved to an existing problem. The virtual forsakes the tense baggage of real life interaction and operates instead from a safer mode. It does have its tense moments because ultimately it’s the human agency at work behind the facade of technology.

Human relationships are by nature tricky. There are studies being conducted on how gadgets are ruining relationships, straining and even breaking them. It would be interesting to see if the virtual content is more stimulating than what real life can offer or a temporary distraction has become a permanent escape from the humdrum of life.

Technology, in a way, is trying to provide answers to a lot of our erstwhile distractions -- memories, music, poetry, photographs. The visual art or perhaps all arts are an exception. No, they cannot be enjoyed on a computer screen, I agree, and must be experienced in real time, except in the case of films. Film is one visual art among distractions that owes itself to technology.

Let me state I am not suggesting that distractions and technology are synonymous, nor am I hinting at them being mutually exclusive. All I am saying is that distractions are worth having.

Some of us who like to sit and think are branded as ‘distracted’ or, worse still, ‘withdrawn’. There could not be a bigger humiliation of a creative state than this.

Procrastination is generally a creative state. And so is the writers’ block. You are only blocking yourself from churning out another mediocre piece but all this while there is no block on your mind which remains a fertile ground for new ideas.

To come back to the subject, the daily grind of life is unbearable, insane. You can not deal with it except by looking for distractions. The farce must be met with a farce.

Talking to myself about... distractions