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Beyond Distraction

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In our contemporary existence, we bathe our senses in a wash of comprehensive audio-visual stimulation. Whether this is good or bad remains beyond this post, but I would offer an observation of the depth of this inundation and observe the state of existing only at the “level of distraction.” First, the channels and the formats.

One simple way of categorizing our distractions is based on how we subscribe to the information. We either pay to have the media brought into our home or the material enters our home without our request or financial provision. We pay for TV and for internet, but we do not pay for junk mail or the advertisements neatly tucked away and coupled with the material we pay for. Though hardly insipid, this material has an effect upon behavior and is designed to inspire increased distraction and is formed precisely to enrich our bond with our pieces of entertainment. No matter the avenue these items have a simple goal in mind: the investment of our time.

The second detail of this inundation stems from the rich variety of the forms in which the material enters our home. Beyond our electronic devices, these distractions enter our home via the channels of paper transmission (USPS) or through the occasional introduction of community material in the form of community messages. In summary, the forms and vast and varied.

So what? Ok, so we have a lot of media coming at us in a number of different forms. Well, I argue here that it is far too easy to remain in the “state of distraction.” We are free from outside consideration and function on a schedule surrounded by the patterns and arrangements established by our electronic devices. Our meals surround our favorite programs, we decide to stay awake to watch a show or refuse to leave the house while the news channel covers a crisis in some far-away land. We are distracted and absorbed.

For some this is the only state. For some the “state of distraction” is the sense of what is typical and normal. This is easy and understandable. The human mind is attracted to the systems of patterns and organizations upon which our device’s programming is arranged. Furthermore, our culture is one of social interactions in which the topics and events of popular culture are a major source of discussion. To break way from the “culture of distraction” is to break away from a key component of contemporary human interactions.

Are we lost inside the “culture of distraction” or are others still capable of moving beyond distraction. What sacrifices must be made to break away and does the modern culture accept these Luddite roles as legitimate options?

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