Put down that racin' form and pay attention

Why is it that there is not a single person that can pay attention to anything for more than about 30 seconds. This is a topic that someone needs to do an in depth study on, but of course that is impossible, because we can’t find a person to pay attention to anything for more than 30 seconds.

I am pretty sure that the short attention span is founded somewhere in our primordial souls. We instinctually were on high alert at all times, so as to preserve our very existence. Who could predict when a saber tooth tiger might pop out of the trees to dine on your liver. Our preprogrammed ability to mentally multi task served an actual function – self preservation.

With the advent of organized society and the extinction of such menacing beasts, we no longer have to be on high alert for self preservation. Instead, that same instinct has now been bushwhacked into making sure that we don’t miss an email or instant message from Billy Bob. We have all seen heads popping up like prairie dogs out of their holes when a generic iPhone ding-a-ling pierces the air. Or better yet, sit in the waiting room at any doctor’s office in America. Everyone, and I mean everyone from 7 to 70 is either staring at their phone or constantly checking it for the latest update. I recently read that, on average, Americans check their phones 344 times per day. (That’s once every 4 minutes!)

We train our children at a very early age to fall into this very same conundrum. We drop them in front of a television with a bunch of toys. Immediately they are forced to multi task as they now have two interruptors of their attention. Yet a third interruptor rears its ugly head in the constant stream of commands and redirects that spew from the mouths of parents.

As a new grandparent, I now see how this progression of interruption can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Grandchildren are prone to mischief, let’s face it. One of their primary goals in life is to go about their business with a focus on what actually interests them without being redirected to more constructive activities by their elders. A case in point is when my grandson wants to play cars. He guides me to the closet wherein we extract his garage and he directs me to carefully lay out all of the cars in a line. Just as I’m laying out the last car, I notice that my grandson is nowhere to be found. He is in fact opening the freezer to grab a handful of frozen blueberries to smear all over the furniture. The art of distraction and interruption is a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled practitioner.

Are we ultimately on the path to continuous interruption? At some future date will we all just lay in bed with a wire in our head, twitching in interruption Nirvana? According to a release published on Medical Express, for the first time ever, researchers have devised a way of connecting the human brain to the internet in real time. It’s been dubbed the “Brainternet” project, and it essentially turns the brain into an Internet of Things (IoT) node on the World Wide Web. Perhaps there is no cure for our desire for continuous stimulation and interruption.

A lyric from a John Prine song comes to mind

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try and find Jesus on your own

Or maybe better yet

Log off of Facebook, throw away your iPhone, move to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try and find Jesus on your own

All content Copyright of Christopher Hammond