Awash in a Sea of Distraction

The Branch in the Sun

You wake up to the sound of a text. You roll over and respond. You check your email. You check your Facebook feed, your Twitter feed, your Instagram feed. You like and respond to some friends’ posts. It’s been 20 minutes, since you woke up. Now, you get out of bed.

You turn on the TV, while eating breakfast, to “catch up” on the world. On your way out to work, you see something beautiful, something you should stop and take the time to enjoy, but instead you whip out your phone and Instagram it, giddy to see how many likes you will receive. At work, you rush to finish tasks so you can have more free time to respond to texts, check your email, check your Facebook, check your Twitter. On and on and on. Finally, you come home and fall into your couch to watch some mindless reality TV. After all, you deserve to relax.

But when do you have time to be you? We give up our humanity when we allow ourselves to be so overcome by distraction. We have no time to observe and enjoy the people and things around us. We lose our ability to focus, to mull over ideas, to form our own opinions. We become powerless to the system, losing the best of ourselves in the race to finish mundane tasks, so we can get back to our “social” sugar rush.

Our phones, our computers, our iPads, and our TVs are vampires, sucking up every last drop of our precious time and attention. Is it because these devices are innately evil? No. It’s the Resistance, that part of our brain that would rather frolic in the field of easy distraction, full of instant feedback, than face the void, start a health and fitness program, write a book, learn a new skill, or spend more quality time with the family. It’s scary to form your own opinions and put them out there, to take responsibility for your life and make an effort. Out there awaits rejection and failure and pain. No, it’s better to stay wrapped up in our electronic womb, where we can observe, and like, and post inanities.

Take a stand! You can win back your time. There is more of it waiting for you than you can imagine. Start by deleting social apps from your phone. Unless your job requires you to be on call, turn your phone off when you go to bed, and leave it off in the morning, until you’re ready to head out the door. Download apps for your computer like Rescue Time, to track and show you how much time you are wasting aimlessly browsing the web, or get Freedom, the app that allows you to turn the internet off for a selected amount of time. If you are really daring, you can even deactivate your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Just do it for a week, you wont lose your account information, but you will gain a ton of time. Finally, turn off your TV. At least keep it to one or two of your favorite shows a week. If you did all of these, how many hours per week do you think you would get back? Two, five, ten, twenty?

The urge to check your devices will be strong at first, but soon it will fade. Suddenly, you will begin to think more clearly, notice more of your surroundings, and have fresh chunks of time to fill with those “all important goals” that you have been putting off. If you can stick with it, notice when you are backsliding, and correct your course, you will soon be living the life that you “never had time for.” Stand up. Take charge of your time. We only have so much of it. No more excuses.

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