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We are the Dead: Why the “Age of Distraction” Can’t Have Nice Things

05.18.09 by Sam | 5 Comments | Digg This

Oh noes the youngs are tweeting on their ipods and can’t write shit down (or read much of any one thing) cause they ain’t got time!  It’s the AGE OF DISTRACTION and it’s fucking us all up, well, according author/scientist Winifred Gallagher:

There is no such thing as multi-tasking…People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money. Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience

The question in front of us isn’t one of distraction, it’s one of synthesis.  If we’re living in a tragicomic cutup that shifts every hour and where the very definitions of good and evil are slip in and out of being implements for battering us into being complicit in our own demise, what’s really left but to try to make sense out of it a few tweets at a time?  The best defenses of snark aren’t the nihilistic ones, they’re the ones that talk about it as an adaptive mechanism that can compress several concepts and their contradictions into something entertaining (like kittens inspired by Carles).

The thing that’s so infuriating about the presumption that those of us clawing for threads at the spiderweb of information are distracted is the pretense of authority involved on the part of people who don’t even understand what they’re looking at.  It’s not cause for alarm, it’s cause for a level of openness about our own limitations.

 Ok, now let us drop some literary bombs on this bitch: When Huxley –stay with me– first talked about the mind at large, I don’t think he realized that it was going to be such a kick and such a bore at the same time, especially once we had the means to exponentiate it.  This is why so many of us are wedded to our ipods; practical infinity and incredible consistency in one device.  It looks like a distraction but it’s closer to cerebral wallpaper. 

If a generation of educated minds is, on some level, going to be condemned to menial work, it seems unfair to not give it a place to run, just as it seems short sighted to assume that the teeming cloud in front of us now is about distraction instead of impressionism. The human mind, right down to the spatial economy of single letters and gestures, is evolving towards the end of ekeing out multitudes right now and some of it’s nonsense (I tweeted about making French Fries with Italian dressing and hot sauce!  And people were actually intersted!) but every so often, trifold profound-itry (it’s as much of a word as totes) bursts through the clutter and things fall into place like ice core haiku of novelty, humor, and unexpected humanity.  Maybe next time the sawdust in the gears will be easier to blast out and the creaking will cut through one caustic tweet at a time before the fireworks drown it.


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