Society of Distraction

July 5, 2010 · 1 comment

in Productivity

Are we living in a society of distraction?

How many of us are paying attention to the moment?

Costs of not being in the moment are huge and can be disasterous.

“Oh my God! We started a fire!”

Four girls ran off screaming after playing with fireworks today near the American River.

Grass Fire American River

Fire started by girls distracted by fireworks

An attentive couple heard the popping, crackling and the scream. They immediately ran up the hill from the river to see the girls running down the bike path – flames spreading in dry grass.

The couple immediate called 911. People nearby pitched in to put water and sand on the rapidly spreading flames. We rode by on our bikes and stopped to help.

You may say, “oh, they were just girls.” That’s no excuse. Their actions and reactions represent a bigger societal issue.

Costs & Consequences

There are costs and consequences resulting from not thinking about what one is doing, about not being in the moment.

How much does our distraction affect others?

Okay, we all screw up, but your response to a mistake, your reaction, can mean life or death. Fortunately, in the case of the fire, it turned out to be a non-event.

The cost of the girls’ not paying attention was negligible, this time, but the city did have to dispatch 4 fire trucks and 1 helicopter.

Costs of Grass Fire

1 of 4 fire trucks & helicopter that responded

Instant Access to Distraction

This was one of a few recent incidents that reminded me that we are in a society of instant access to distraction.

  • Watch people driving their cars.
  • Watch as they walk down the street.
  • Watch as they ride their bikes down the bike path.

People are distracted by texting, music, iPods, iPhones, iThis and iThat.

Few are paying attention to what’s going on around them.

We almost got hit by a gal parking her car AS SHE WAS TEXTING on her phone. She didn’t look in front of her to see we were standing there by our bikes.

My husband exclaimed,

“Society is coming apart at the seams while texting!”

uh, um, oo, ah …

Just minutes earlier I was checking Twitter and looking at Tour de France #tdf updates – while stopped, that is.

Wait!

Was he inadvertently referring to me as well?

Why was I mentally distracted by Twitter while on a bike ride?

Was it the  availability to plug into thoughts around the world with technology right in my pocket?

It was a light bulb moment! I resolved that I, too, needed to be more “in the moment.” It’s too easy to be distracted by Twitter, FaceBook, iThis and iThat.

Last year, I wrote The Story of a Social Media Addict. I’m wondering if such addictions are affecting our psyche, causing society to come apart at the seams …

What are the costs and consequences of being distracted, not paying attention?

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