My brain is mush. I have the attention span of a gnat.
That phrase, the attention span of a gnat, how do scientists even measure what the attention span of an insect is? Let me google that . . .
See? Complete lack of focus. My thinking is a series of side notes, Internet searches, and unrelated tangents.
Anyway, my brain. I recently concluded I irreparably damaged it.
Each morning my routine is the same.
“Where is my wallet!”
“I can’t find my truck keys!”
“Shit, I know I laid my security badge down here last night.”
Every. damn. morning.
My maternal grandmother died of complications from dementia. Scarring of the brain, as her doctor described it. I’m 37. I worry.
Sometimes I will wait in long lunch lines and forget what I want by the time I get to the counter. And grocery stores? God, help me if I don’t have a list. Using paper towels, even in the privacy of your own home, is embarrassing when you forgot the one thing you went to the store to actually buy.
My reading has gone to pot as well. Once upon a time I could pick up a new book and read it rather I liked it or not. Lately, I can’t even concentrate long enough to read a bathroom sign. I almost walked into a women’s restroom the other day.
I keep buying and checking out books, and hoping.
The pile of novels began over the past three months now gathering dust include: 7 Habits for Highly Successful People; The Golden Finch; The Price of Salt; Dissident Gardens; and Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs.
I live in a house of half-read books.
I actually kind of blame my career and the modern digital world for some of this absent-mindedness.
Considering, writing, reading and living used to be a slow and deliberate thing. A lot of thinking, copy editing, printing, delivering, weighing options, waiting and then deciding what to spend my hard-earned cash on to read. Radio was a bit more passive (and free), but still, I had to choose specific times and places to sit still and listen. The voices and music engaged my imagination when I did. Same with TV, to a lesser extent. But now the Internet – a constant stream of information on mobile devices that are always on, that I always feel the need to quietly check or intrude with alerts screaming for attention . . .
That bathroom I almost walked into? I’m pretty sure an iPhone was involved. And it’s so easy to skim, flip, switch, all for free! And if suddenly not free, well, people are free to move on somewhere else. (For the record, I like subscription content online. If I’m buying it, then I’m really enjoying it, more likely actively engaged with the it, and it in turn is usually of a higher quality.)
I’ve informed the world of many things on Twitter without actually reading what I promoted in my feed.
And,the irony, oh the irony. I work in the medium, pushing out content to try to engage and get your attention. I at least hope you re-tweet my tweet even if you haven’t read, just for the off-chance someone else does. Sometimes though I get the sneaking suspicions that I’m contributing to a cycle that saps our ability to focus. And sadder yet, a lot of what I send out probably gets lost in the ether.
I think we have the attention span of a gnat. You know, with cell phones and Twitter.
~ Jeff Daniels
Perhaps the only brain save in my life now is my running. At least I do that without the Internet in my face. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I got lost on a route or forgot where I was while running. And I didn’t need Google maps to tell me where to go our how to get back either.
No, instead, I had my iPhone strapped to my arm with the Internet tracking and recording my every move so I could dissect and distract later.