Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I'm an 'Everyday Robot'

I’m worried about my attention span. Or to be more specific, the pathetic excuse for one I now find myself living with.

Where before television-watching was one of my ultimate diversions from the things I should really be doing, I now find myself distracted even from the original distraction – simultaneously watching and scrolling, dead-eyed, through tweets and statuses and photos in variations of the same flattering filters.

But worst of all, after sharing news of my ever decreasing attention span with two of my best friends, I didn't receive the kind of sympathetic assurances of shared guilt that you might generally expect to hear from your pals. Instead, I learn that now there are times where I haven’t even made it to the end of a conversation before my mind quite visibly wanders off.

My mouth will be mmming in what might not even be the right places, while my brain starts thinking about, oh I don’t know, what I might be having for dinner later, and I’m left looking vacant and – though they generously didn’t say as much - like a bit of a rude tosser.

And while they may have been kind enough (or comfortable enough in our ten year friendship, at any rate) to stage an intervention of sorts, this still isn't going to be enough to put a stop to it.

Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that it's my Apple-induced addiction that's mostly to blame for this sad state of affairs. I realise I'm not exactly alone here – a quick scan around just about any public place provides ample evidence that there are plenty more slaves to their iPhones out there. None of us appear to be able to indulge in the now outlandish and outmoded concept of  just sitting and...watching the world go by. And it’s unsurprising I suppose, given that that we’re all immersed in this culture of 'instant gratification' where anything from a date to the table you book for it can be found at the mere touch of a touch screen – if you're so inclined.  

But it's about time that we acknowledged that these days, as Damon Albarn might say, we've become nothing but 'everyday robots'. And more importantly than that, did something about it. Which is precisely why as of this week my phone will be staying firmly out of sight when I talk to people, and I'll be giving my right thumb a rest from all that incessant scrolling.

If not, I'd say I run the risk of living out a kind of half life with one foot in the present, and the other in some strange hyper-reality, where the people speak in 140 characters or less, and things, though they might have a soft insta-ready hue about them, ain't all that pretty.