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Are We All Becoming Devoid of Attention?

January 6, 2014
3 minute read

Attention Deficit Disorder. ADD. I'm pretty sure that over the last 5 years this term has now become a slang term that refers to anyone who can't seem to focus on one thing at a time. Their attention moves quickly from one thing to the next. I personally know a few people that will stop mid-thought and start a new sentence about something completely different. Now, I'm not knocking this sort of thing - some people actually are diagnosed with ADD. Others may have just become this way because of the way our culture is shifting.

It's not surprising that this is more a thing now than ever. We live in a world full of distractions. The internet being the biggest. It's the internet that holds all of social media, email, websites, streaming music and streaming video. It's also our connection to tons of other people. But in the end, it's a good thing, right?

At any party I go to I always see half the room staring down at their phone. What did we ever do without smartphones? It's a shame for kids these days - they are growing up in a world where it's OK to look down at your phone during a conversation. They'll grow up with a phone glued to their hand and never know a world without one.

The advent of the iPhone was probably the beginning of the end. No longer are phones used for actually calling people - they are more often used for apps and access to the internet. Facebook and other social media outlets have long realized this as they are seeing the most interaction to their platforms via mobile devices. People probably only use the actual Facebook website while they're at work and supposed to be doing other things (see: distractions). Go to a party and look around for a minute, or a restaurant - how many people are looking down at their phone? How many people are engaged in conversation while also looking at their phone too? It's crazy. Now I have nothing against smart phones - they're pretty awesome. But they are also an awesome distraction.

My business partner always seems to use the phrase, "I'll knock that out on the flight down". He's referring to doing work on his flight to and from destinations. It's always made sense to me, but I never really thought why. Why does he want to write an article on a plane ride instead of doing it now? It's because he has no distractions on a plane ride - there's no internet access (at least there didn't used to be), there's no TV, there's nowhere to go. It's a completely distraction fee zone that allows someone to focus and get shit done. But that sort of thing is rare these days - unless you actually make time (and make a place) to be less distracted from all of the outside influences that are available to you, then you're stuck in a world full of distraction. An airplane flight gives you no choice - you have to be disconnected.

So I guess I would love it if we were all a little more engaged and a little less distracted. I suppose this is how it used to be in the old days - but who can remember anything before the internet came around?