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February 23, 2011

Perhaps I have a 28.8 brain in a T1 world

Every now and then I write a lot, spilling out words all over the place. It's been like this forever -- it's not like I just recently started being loquacious -- so I'm surprised to see recent comments from people who say things like, "I don't usually read that much in a blog..." or "I usually can only read a paragraph then I get fidgety." Our attention spans have dwindled down to bullet points and 15-second blurbs.

• Here's a bullet point to break up the monotony of sentences and comma splices!

I don't take it personally. I notice my attention span has rapidly diminished, too. I blame it entirely on the smart phone and the increase in fast internet service. Sometimes I catch myself playing scrabble or solitaire on my phone while I watch TV as if one time-wasting activity were not enough. Nope, I have to double time my laziness. I try to stop myself when I notice I'm doing it because I'm not paying full attention to either activity and I feel scattered and restless. This is usually when I put on my tennis shoes and go for a walk. That flighty and restless feeling almost always means I'm anxious or I need to physically burn some energy.

Everything just moves so fast now, our poor little brains have all gone haywire.

• Haywire brain! Needs bullet points! Likes bold a lot!

Remember when we used to have to wait patiently while AOL made its hissing, scrapping, wheezing, dialup sounds? And remember how long it used to take to load a web page? And remember when people could actually read six or eight entire paragraphs without feeling antsy and needing to click over to something new and fresh? Are you still there? Have you clicked over already?

We so crazy.

Oh wait.

• We so crazy!

One night Jennifer and I were leaving my apartment, out on our way to dinner. The restaurant was in close walking distance, so I took only my keys and my wallet. She was shocked and a little horrified that I didn't plan to bring my phone, too.

"You're not bringing your phone with you?" she asked.

"Nope," I said.

"You're just going to go out... without your phone?" The shock! The horror!

"I like to untether," I said. "Keeps me focused."

She looked at me like I had just announced I was donating all my fingers and toes to science.

"You are crazy," she declared.

• Those people in the crosswalks who are hypnotized by their phones better watch out!

Last week I yelled at someone in a crosswalk. Instead of actually paying attention and walking with purpose across a very busy Los Angeles intersection, she was glued to the mysterious device in her hand and was at an almost complete standstill in the intersection as she typed. The world had ceased to spin on its axis, her entire universe had been reduced to an iphone.

I had the windows zipped down so I hollered at her. Real loud.

"Hey! Stop staring at your phone and pay attention! You! You there! WAKE UP!!!!!! The earth is on FIRE!!!!"

She never heard me or heard the people behind me honking. It was amazing. She was just typing away, clicking on her little cellphone while the world swirled around her.

But I guess I should have just been happy she was able to concentrate on any one thing for that long. Maybe it was a rollicking game of Scrabble. Or a really longass wordy blog with comma splices.

Posted by laurie at February 23, 2011 1:28 PM