Good Distraction And Bad Distraction

I THINK THERE is such a thing as a good distraction and a bad distraction. A Good distraction is when you’re still able to remain connected with your environment despite outside interferences. Also, a good distraction is something that does not hinder, but invites, authentic engagement with the people around you. On the flip side, a bad distraction is something that not only distracts you from important, momentary pleasures but it robs you of the chance to form real, concrete relationships with the people in your environment.

If good distractions and bad distractions are real, concrete things that can hinder or enhance our relationships, then why is it that some people choose the bad over the good? And whatever the reason may be, how can we, as individuals and as a society, encourage people to be less distracted?

Distractions are nothing new. We can go as far back in time as we want to and, at each point in history, we would discover that people were preoccupied with one thing or the other. Thus, what this tells us, is that distractions are prelims of human existence.

Although distractions are prelims of human existence, depending on what time period people are in, however, can determine the intensity-level in which people are distracted.  For example, when we look back to the 1960s, during the peak of the hippie movement, what we see is that a lot of people were not as distracted as they are today. Back then, there were no smartphones and no social media to distract people from important issues.

And although they had the Vietnam war, Civil Rights, and the Space Race with the Soviet Union to worry about, they were still able to come together to agree on certain things, like protesting the Vietnam war, listening to the Beatles and fighting for the environment. Granted, the economy was a lot stabler back then than it is today; social welfare programs had just started, and the federal government had increased its spending, we cannot overlook the fact that, despite outside interferences, people were still able to form meaningful connections.

Fast forward to the present moment, and distractions are not what they used to look like in the 1960s. Today, the type of distractions that we have not only prevents us from being hip to how people around us might be feeling, and to some of the important issues of the day, but they also have the added bonus of real, economic losses attached to them. Today, even something as harmless as being distracted on social media costs our economy $650 billion dollars in lost productivity. In other words, the more time you spend on social media the lesser the economy stands to benefit.

Seeing that both our interpersonal relationships and our economies stand to lose when we are distracted, what we now need, more than ever, is a reimagination of what it means to be distracted in a good way. On the surface, that sounds like an oxymoron, that is; how can being distracted actually be a good thing? and that’s true. But, when we look deeper, however, we can see that there are real, tangible outcomes for good distractions.

A good distraction is when you set your phone down and allow yourself the chance to wonder and connect with your environment. Secondarily, good distractions are great for not only fostering mindfulness but they are also great for fostering creativity, and creativity often leads to solutions. What this means is that people in the 1960s were onto something, that is; by allowing themselves to be distracted in a good way, they were able to agree on creative solutions that ended up changing the society in which they lived in.

We, in this generation, are certainly entitled to that same potential so long as we begin to choose good distractions over the bad distractions. But how do we encourage people to choose the good over the bad? It’s no secret, that when it comes to making positive choices, people will choose the bad over the good. One simple reason people do that is because the bad is convenient and sometimes more inexpensive than the good. To change that, though, we need to introduce them to posts like these. Another idea is to create educational programs, lectures, and seminars about the good, the bad, and the ugly of distractions.

 

The economic cost of using social media; Masahabe.com

U.S., economy during the 1960s -1970s; Years of Change

Three reasons you should let yourself get distracted; Fast Economy

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Writing Is Hard

I AM trying to think of something to write but I can’t think of anything. Man, writing is hard.

I think it was Ernest Hemmingway who wrote; “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Man, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s so poetic and romantic. Although great writers like Ernest Hemmingway have no problem coming up with something interesting to write about, I, on the other hand, am no Hemmingway.

For me, writing is like sitting down in front of the notepad and trying not to slit my wrist because the words just won’t come out. And when they do come out, I find myself constantly erasing and rewriting. Dramatic? maybe. But accurate, yes! Writing is not as poetic and as romantic as Ernest Hemmingway makes it out to be. Writing is work.

Sometimes writers write because they want to or other times they write because they have to. But for any writer on that spectrum to suggest that writing is like a romantic journey, where there is no mechanics involved whatsoever, is straight up insane.

A writer is constantly writing and rewriting. They are never satisfied with their work, they’re constantly, to quote Malcolm Gladwell, “….always in a constant state of revision.” And it is there, in that state of constant revision, that writing no longer becomes enigmatic or romantic.

Producing something of great value out of that state of constant revision requires structure, discipline, and mechanics. In other words, and unlike Hemmingway’s statement, there is, in fact, something to writing.

A truer representation of what the writing process is actually like was captured by Mark Twain, when he wrote; “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” What Mark Twain was essentially acknowledging, is that the actual act of sitting down to write is not difficult. But it’s that constant state of revision that makes the journey of writing less poetic or romantic.

Image by Client Kit

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Syllabus Week

SYLLABUS WEEK used to be that you come to class, do some ice breakers and listen to what is expected of you for the rest of the semester. But those days are long gone. For whatever reason, some instructors are now dishing out homework on the first, second, or third day of classes. And that’s just insane!

Syllabus week has been rough, too. One homework here, some over there, and another one in my backpack. Why are professors so insensitive?! Have they forgotten that we have other responsibilities?! 

I had one professor say to me; “If you’re taking more than 15 credited classes, you better do yourself a favor and drop this class because I am expecting a lot from you.” Though he was smiling when he said that, I don’t think he was joking. Another professor said to us that she’s planning on handing out challenging homework this semester because, last semester, students did the bare minimum.

If you’re handing out homework while students are just doing the bare minimum, then obviously dishing out more homework is not the answer. Perhaps, your students might be doing the bare minimum because they’re trying to find a balance between other responsibilities?

Refusing to acknowledge that homework is not the end-all-be-all, signifies that you are out of touch with your students. Also, that you admire your ego more than you value their well-being. Students are not simply soulless robots solving equations and crunching up numbers all day, we have other obligations, too! Majority of us are working, trying to navigate complicated relationships, and are involved in extracurricular activities.

I, for example, have 16 credits to worry about, an internship to complete, and a host of other responsibilities that are in constant need of my full attention. To the student like myself, it is ludicrous and insensitive to expect us to fully commit ourselves to more demanding assignments.

It may sound like I am indifferent to homework, but that’s not the case. Like most teachers, I agree that assigning homework to students gives us the opportunity to strengthen what we’ve already learned. Furthermore, I believe that homework – as an idea or as a practical tool of measurement – is absolutely essential because it encourages competition. This element of competition is what drives innovation and creativity. Without competition our schools and our lives would be dull and disinteresting.

So, you see, I don’t think that having homework is a bad thing, but what I think is that having too much of it, especially on the first, second, or third day of classes, can be discouraging and overwhelming. The introduction of syllabus week was meant to give us a snapshot of what the rest of our classes might look like. In other words, it’s a time to relax and to get to know the people who you might be spending the rest of the semester with. When we depart from this general school of thought, syllabus week not only becomes stressful but it also primes us to do the bare minimum.

Though doing the bare minimum or dropping a few classes sounds appealing right now, I will not do that. Rather, I’m going to hunker down and get all of my homework done because that’s just who I am. I love the challenge.

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