November 22nd, 2010

spider web

Sucked in and stuck on the web

I saw a fair amount of tweets about “Growing Up Distracted,” an article in the New York Times. I'm not entirely sure I buy that this generation is really any different from previous generations, at least at a fundamental level. I think the specific nature of the distractions changes, but young people have always had things that distract them from schoolwork or chores, or whatever they're supposed to be paying attention to.

Admittedly, though, the multitasking nature of today's social network (texting, emailing, posting on Facebook, etc,) would tend to exacerbate a tendency to a short attention span. I find something similar in writing. When I'm immersed in a story at the first draft stage— actually writing the narrative— I have to forgo TV watching and Internet surfing almost entirely. But when I'm at the polishing stage, where I go over and over the same chunk of text, I find that the work is so much more of a drain that I have to take a break from time to time. And on the web, there is always something going on.

Here are some examples of my recent distractions:

Someone is working on making e-paper out of paper!
James Frey proves he is both crass and unscrupulous. John Scalzi had some of the most cogent comments about that whole kerfuffle.
I'm not buying any stock in Borders any time soon.
It is pretty amazing the things people decide to invent, witness this machine that lays down a brick road like it was frosting out of a tube.
The TSA is hiring idiots and giving them power over people.
Some people clearly have too much time on their hands.

And now I think I'll go back to something productive. Like Twitter.

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