These days, there seem to be countless ways in which to be busy doing nothing. Whether it’s Facebook, Netflix, or YouTube videos of carpool karaoke (a.k.a. how I spent my morning), there are an endless number of apps that will suck you into something resembling a black hole time warp that you then emerge from, hours later, feeling numb and strangely exhausted.
I have been feeling particularly prone to these black hole time warps lately (BHTW’s for funsies) because a) I have A LOT of time off at the moment and b) I have VERY LITTLE money with which to go out and do anything at the moment. So I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time on the internet and on Facebook, as well as watching TV. But ok, full disclosure – this is not new for me. I often spend a lot of time on Facebook and binge watching TV.
Facebook is the main way I keep up with most people in my life, it is how I find the majority of my work, and it is how I ever have any idea of what is happening in world events. These are all good and positive things. However, what usually happens when I get sucked into a Facebook BHTW is that I scroll through dozens and dozens of posts written by the myriad of people I have met throughout my life, I see headlines and news articles and videos posted about the recent tragedies in the world. I glace over them, and keep scrolling, glace over a dozen more, and keep scrolling, without really taking the time to digest most of it. It’s numbing. And I end up not gaining anything out of it except the vague idea that the world is falling apart and I’m not really sure why.
There is a quote by biologist E.O. Wilson that reads: “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” This resonated with me as I have access to basically all of the information I could ever want, but still most of the time feel un-informed and unknowledgeable.
It also seems to me that in a time when the whole world is available at your fingertips, and as I’m writing this I’m within reach of three different screens, three different ways to distract myself or numb myself or entertain myself, we are losing the ability to hyper focus on one thing at a time. I often will find myself watching TV, and then opening my computer to begin browsing Facebook. And I’m scrolling and scrolling, and only vaguely retaining anything that I’m reading, meanwhile missing most of what’s happening with my show. And then I get a text, so I’m then having a conversation, reading something on Facebook, and watching TV. Except I’m not really doing any of those things.
So, I’ve come up with a little homework assignment for myself. Everyday for the next week, I am going to pick one article, one podcast, one TEDTalk, or even one intriguing idea, focus on it, spend time actually thinking about it, (without 30 Rock on in the background) and write about it. I’m hoping this will help me a) practice focus and critical thinking, b) become more knowledgeable, and c) get back into the habit of writing.
When I started this blog, it was because for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write. I still daydream about being the next Stieg Larsson or Elizabeth Gilbert, but for the time being, this blog is my outlet for that lifelong dream. After starting it in October, I posted an entry at least once every month until March, but have written nothing since then, and I really believe that has had a negative affect on me these past several months. I need this outlet more than I realized, and so I’m back!
So consider this Day 1 of my weeklong homework assignment: A reflection on the excessive numbing that takes places everyday, and my own determination to pinch myself out of it.