By Caleb Keith –
I shouldn’t be bored. I have things to do, places to go and people to see. I have a Latin final to study for, projects at work to complete, and preparations for the upcoming school year to make. So then why am I yawning sitting on my couch scrolling through Facebook and Twitter feeds that have nothing new in them? My guess is that it’s the same reason you’re sitting in your office chair reading The Jagged Word when you should be getting shit done. The Internet, social media, and technology in general are destroying our attention spans and making us perpetually bored.
The human mind is an amazing tool. It can process more information than any supercomputer and it can hold an immense amount of knowledge. The Internet, more than anything before it, capitalizes on the empty space in our minds that waits to be filled. The Internet promises to be a tool to help us access information and to allow us to learn quicker and be more efficient. However, that notion is just a clever façade. Once your online information and tools drift into the background, cat videos, angry hash tags, and comedic memes soon fill the screen. Watching, reading, and participating in these things are easy and best of all immediately gratifying.
Convenience and instant gratification are a blessing and a curse. This is clearly evident when we look at the fast-food industry. A drive through cheeseburger can be a savior after a long day at work and no time to cook at home; it can also become a problem when that cheeseburger is a regular replacement for cooking family dinner. Similarly, cat videos are a great stress reliever in the midst of a hectic day, but they can easily turn from stress reliever into work replacer. The void in our minds which was once reserved for knowledge is now reserved for entertainment. Our attention is so focused on entertainment that we become bored anytime that the entertainment is missing.
I am tired of being a bored consumer who fills his world with cheap entertainment. I want to take that part of my mind, which is captive to online instant gratification, and put it to good use. Reading, writing, even working don’t hold my attention. My eyes drift away from what I am supposed to be doing, over to my phone hoping that my boredom will be filled. The hard realization is that there is no easy way out of this cycle. Technology, the Internet, and social media are a part of my working, educational, and social endeavors. There is no convenient fast food answer to let my technology serve as a tool and let the entertainment be saved for after my work is done. Instead it takes something society as a whole isn’t used to anymore, diligent commitment.
It’s time for me to put my phone down and pick up a book. It’s time to close Facebook and get back to writing. It’s time to stop playing games on my Apple Watch and use it to help me get back into shape. I hope, like me, that you are tired of being bored. That you are tired of blankly staring at your phone, tired of kittens getting in the way of work, and tired of being controlled by your own set of tools. If so, we have a lot of hard work in front of us. Escaping the world of digital distractions is not an easy thing to do. It is a commitment that involves hard work and some outside help. We are going to need people to back us up. And more importantly, we are going to need people to forgive and encourage us when we relapse.