Because of television, tweeting, blogging and YouTubing, it seems that we’ve generally “done our attention spans in.” We’ve managed to degrade our ability to focus on almost anything. How could that be? How could we have done this to ourselves? Easily . . . we’ve become slaves to our technological gadgets and gizmos. If you’re still reading this post, however, you may be an exception. To determine one way or another whether in fact you are a victim of technology, take the following test:
(a) Do you own a remote control? Yes / No
(b) Do you use it? Yes / No
(c) If you answered “yes” to questions “a” and “b” above, ask yourself: Do I flip from channel to channel in order to move my attention away from a commercial on to yet another program that may be of interest? Yes / No
(d) If you answered “yes” to question “c” above, ask yourself: What would I do if my remote control suddenly stopped working? Would I calmly call my television service provider and arrange for a new remote to be snail mailed to me within five business days? Yes / No
(e) If you answered “yes” to “d” above, skip this question, because you clearly are not suffering as badly from Technology-Induced Fleeting Attention Span Syndrome [which I totally made up, but may be real] as so many of us are. If, however, you answered “no” to “d,” now ask yourself: Would I head off as fast as I could to my local department store and purchase a Universal Remote Control to fill that five-business-day gap? Yes / No
(f) If you answered “yes” to “e,” then you are most definitely a victim of what I’ve determined should be labeled for all practical purposes “Technology-Induced Fleeting Attention Span Syndrome.”
(g) So what are our next steps? The answers are clear, but almost impossible to implement. We need to counteract the effects of technology on our ability to focus, and we need to do it right away. We need to start slowly, so that we develop new behaviors. We need to start by putting the remote controls, the cell phones, the Blackberries, I-phones, I-pods, I-pads and laptops on the shelf every night within an hour of dinner and start practicing the art of conversation or hobby building, doing something that separates us from our wireless contraptions and re-connects us with our inner selves, humanity and the world we all know and love. Why should we do this? Because too much of anything, even technology, is not only harmful to our health, but harmful to our ability to build healthy relationships with our families, our friends, our colleagues, our pets and the world around us. So let’s get started. When, you ask? Is tomorrow too soon? How about next week? Hmm . . . there’s the next question.