Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves To. . . I Forget

My brain is distracted.

I realized this when I was reading a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains and I would hear the siren call of Facebook. I put the book down and lunged for my computer so I could look at stuff like this:

facebook

There, all better. Now what was that book saying?

Something about how distraction has always been around since the advent of electronic media, but:

(N)ever has there been a medium that has been programmed to so widely scatter our attention and to do it so insistently.

I knew it was happening to me. I saw it when trying to read The New York Times online and finding I could only make it through three paragraphs before losing interest and clicking elsewhere–usually on ads for the Chillow pillow

chillow

I can read the physical paper in its entirety as long as I can continue to check Facebook every ten minutes.

facebook2

It’s probably unsurprising, but reading print materials activitates different parts of the brain than reading online. For instance, as you read this, the part of your brain that regulates break dancing has been stimulated. That book readin’ activiates them language, memory and visual processing parts. Now you tell me, which is better?

breakin

I’ve experienced the moment when it feels like the whole world recedes as I look at a Buzzfeed list of the craziest bras ever created. That’s what the Internet does. It grabs our attention only to scatter it like a bra made out of birdseed.

In Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death (disclaimer: I tried to read this online and made it three sentences in before giving up. I’m reading a print version now), he brings up the two varying views of the future: George Orwell’s and Aldous Huxley’s. Orwell predicted a totalitarian world where information was scarce. Huxley’s world was one of excess where people willingly gave up their autonomy in exchange for their distractions. Information was everywhere.

I wonder whose view is more spot on?

snowdenkimyeIt would appear that the notion of the U.S. government collecting the phone records and Internet searches of millions of Americans, an act that is in direct violation of the 4th amendment, would be somewhat troubling.

Shouldn’t it be?

I don’t know because while I was looking up the NSA story, I was sidetracked by a video of Justin Bieber pissing in a mop bucket.

My journey ultimately ended here:

facebook3There, all better.

Advertisements