Physical abuse is getting a lot of press these, especially in the realm of pro sports.
But there’s another kind of abuse that doesn’t get as much press —something more widespread and insidious.
As in, the crap that saps your precious attention: e.g. television “news,” social media flame wars, Facebook status updates, thoughtless emails, Instagram messages, etc.
Technology is useful up to a point. But unchecked, it has a huge potential for abuse.
We can blame the media, or Facebook, or our internet-connected mobile toys. But we’re not innocent victims.
We are ultimately responsible for our own addled minds.
If we want our minds to do more productive things, to achieve more important goals, then we have to remedy the problem ourselves.
What’s the problem with a few ordinary distractions?
Well, for starters, when you’re constantly distracted you lose the ability to create anything sophisticated. You can achieve only the simplest goals. Big goals seem unachievable, because they are.
Do you want to learn a new language? Not likely. Do you harbor dreams of writing a book? Ain’t gonna happen.
Remember the parable about the race between the Tortoise and the Hare? Technology is making us all into speedy, easily-distracted rabbits.
And believe me, I’m not up in some pulpit. For years I was an unproductive rabbit —paying too much attention to new gizmos, and not enough attention to meaningful things.
Then, miraculously, I stumbled into a secret passageway that helped me escape my crippling pattern of distractedness. That was just over six months ago, but it feels like years. Probably because I’ve shifted to a completely different state of mind. One that I cherish, and will protect with messianic obsession.
These days I self-impose strict limits on my web-surfing. For example, during work hours, I keep my computer set to a special program that always displays black screen. I don’t allow myself to switch to a different program unless it’s to do a specific task that I have pre-identified by recording it in a daily log.
Here’s another shocker: I keep that daily log using a paper and pen. Yeah hard to believe, I know.
But I’ve become very conscious about my use of internet-connected technology. Which, these days, is pretty much anything with an on-off switch.
Developing this habit took time, and was excruciatingly hard. But it’s turned out to be stunningly helpful. I’m vastly more productive, and my mind feels so much clearer now than it did a few months ago.
People who know me well probably think it’s ironic that I’m such an ardent proponent of the power of technology, and yet am now railing about its potential for abuse.
Well, what can I say? I had an epiphany.
But if you think my wariness of technology is ironic, then read the New York Times article entitled Steve Jobs was a Low-Tech Parent.
When you know how powerful mental clarity is, and how it gets impaired, you have a strong incentive to eliminate (or at least limit) the threat. Even if you’re the head of a company that cranks out devices that help spread that threat in the first place.
So if you’re too distracted by technology don’t blame Apple, or Steve Jobs. Remember, you’re responsible for your own mental state.