Digital Distraction: How We Lost Focus
How do we lead healthy, productive lives in the 21st century? The answer to the proposed question is an enigma. Our days are spent ‘connected,’ a term Mark Zuckerberg coined and monopolized, and both our idle and occupied time is rife with distraction.
In the midst of reviewing class notes for a major exam, running on the treadmill — headphones dangling by our waist-side — or attempting to get through a film’s full 120 minutes, our iPhones chime and our once focused synapses self-destruct. This is the face of 2015, when simple tasks are difficult to complete without a constant bombardment of ‘Lols’ and Instagram notifications.
Describing the need for it, Pamela Druckerman of The New York Times underscores the problem by detailing the distracting minutiae of 21st-century life: “unreturned emails; unprinted family photos; the ceaseless ticker of other people’s lives on Facebook; the heightened demands of parenting; and the suspicion that we’ll be checking our phones every 15 minutes, forever. I can sit in an empty room, and still get nothing done,” Druckerman asserts. Instead of living in the present and focusing on the task at hand, we allow the potential for complete, logical thoughts to be disrupted by what is often an insignificant mobile alert.
How can we ever achieve genuine fulfillment when we enable diversions to compete with our concentration? We can’t. We must develop a way to truly disconnect from the digital distractions that create delusions about reality. “FOMO,” or the “Fear of Missing Out,” is an epidemic plaguing Generation Y — a constant reminder of the supposedly thrilling lifestyles of people we know little about.
This all refers back to the perils of the digital age, but also reminds us how unfocused we have become. When we disconnect from the falsities around us, it is then that we can develop a better understanding of what makes our heart sing, what truly speaks to us, and we’re more able to develop our inner being.