The age of distraction

We live in an age of distraction. It seems that everything is geared towards getting our
attention,everywhere you turn information is poured upon you. Personally, I find it very
hard to concentrate on a specific topic these days because of that. When working
on something it seems that temptation lurks everywhere, all of a sudden we are surrounded
by other “things” that seem more interesting at that moment…is this due to a flaw in the
human psyche,or is it, that today we do actually live in the age of distraction?

Look at the Internet,from a small network it has turned into a mammoth of information. You
can find your friends, see what they are doing, update them about what you are doing, watch a
movie (or TV series),listen to music, research a topic, read the news, watch sports, read
a book, read magazines, participate in forums, track your workouts, compare them with others,
log-on and play a massive multiplayer online role playing games,chat with your friends, chat
with strangers…I guess you get the point-now add in other more traditional media devices
such as TV and radio, how much time will there be left for you to simply ponder and think?

We might even end up blaming all of these distractions for turning us into dumber people
since we just sit in front of a screen and we stare like hypnotized minions of a greater evil.
When I look at my parents, I actually do feel dumber-they know a lot more than I do,
they know physics, mathematics, chemistry and geography…Even though I was in school just
a few years ago (ok,a bit more then a few) I couldn’t find Micronezia on a map even if my life
depended on it…

An interesting claim was raised by A.J. Jacobs in his article:”You (We) Are Not Stupid”
in this months Esquire (American edition). Jacobs says that even though past generations
have managed to memorize more information then we have we are actually smarter.  He also
claims that we are less handy but we solve problems better, since we can think and we have tools
at our disposal that can help us remember instead of having to memorize (Internet and a
search engine…say Google).

The claim itself is a reasonable one,why should we bother with memorizing information if
that information can be recorded for us and accessed whenever we need it…?
In my opinion this is the catch of the claim – we have to trust that fact that the source
of information that we have used to memorize the information for us will still be there when
we need and that it will still be valid.
Basically by becoming totally dependent on these information guardians we might actually be
turning into those hypnotized zombies – we would have no way of knowing wether someone
changed the information in their favor (Moses said that we should all buy brand A…)…

After writing quite a few words, all I wanted to ask is how do you filter the information flow
towards you (to keep focused) and how do you know wether what you do process is valid or not?

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