Living Distracted

It is estimated that a person will spend 6 years and 8 months of their lives on social media.

Resisting distractions is one of our greatest challenges.

As I sit down to write this article, my computer thinks I need to be notified of the latest news feeds and the popup covers up my document. Once I finally get it to go away, I get back to my article. Email dings to tell me that I’ve got mail. Better check it just in case it’s something important. It wasn’t. It takes awhile to get my mind back on the task at hand. Just as I get back in to writing the article, I get a notification that I have a message. It only takes a few seconds to check that as well. I wonder why I am not more productive. It’s easy to fall in to the distraction trap.

We lose an average of 2.1 hours daily with these distractions. Just one single distraction can stop you from working for 5-10 minutes, and this can happen as often as every 15 minutes. But we don’t just lose those 5-10 minutes. It takes about 25 minutes to return fully to the task at hand. A typical mobile phone user checks their phone more than 150 times a day, making focusing almost impossible. I am guilty as well.

Not only does social media take us away from our tasks, it often takes us away from people and places. How many times do we see two people out to dinner and both are on their phone instead of talking to each other? Or children trying to get their parents attention only to be ignored while the parents are busy on their phones. Living in California in a popular tourist spot, I often see people using the beautiful view as the backdrop for their selfies or taking in the scenery on a 3”x5” screen.

Has social media become an addiction?

Has social media become an addiction? Research shows that when people are denied access to social media they become anxious. Is it an addiction to social media or a fear of missing out? Will everyone else know more than we do sooner? What will friends think if we don’t comment on every post?  (They probably won’t notice.) Does having something to say make us feel important? Do we need to weigh in on every opinion?

People have always been addicted to gossip and drama. My grandmother got her gossip by listening in on the party-line and my mother shared gossip with her friends by phone or in the coffee klatch. Now there is a larger platform on which to share. Instead of friends and neighbors, we are sharing to the whole world and getting their gossip as well. When I was growing up, keeping your own counsel and not sharing all of your business was considered wise. It was generally agreed that some things were better remaining private. Today, nothing remains private and people don’t hesitate to share the most intimate details of their life and air their dirty linen or every little thing that happens to them however unimportant. No wonder we are overwhelmed. There is an information overload.

“We rarely find answers in the distractions.”

Tempted to procrastinate? A distraction is just a click away. Resisting distractions is one of our greatest challenges. I find myself seeking the distraction when I’m bored or struggling to make myself sit down and get busy.

“We rarely find answers in the distractions. But oh what possibilities live within the quiet of solitude.” Scott Stabile

Quiet and solitude have been calling me for a while. I can’t accomplish things that are meaningful to me if I am always distracted by the small, unimportant things.

So what is the antidote? Do we need to go cold turkey and give up all social media? The answer is to fill the void with meaningful goals that challenge and stretches you. One you can become fully engrossed in.

Pick up your pen, paintbrush, garden trowel, or go for a walk—whatever creative activity you enjoy. The more you become fully engaged in what you are doing, the less distractions will distract you.

It is estimated that a person will spend 6 years and 8 months of their lives on social media.

“Don’t be on your deathbed someday having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.” Derek Sivers

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” Christopher Columbus

Posted in uncategorized