Tag Archives: Distraction

Are we really getting more stupid?

Some people argue that there are too many easy distractions in our time. That we are seduced by an bombardment of entertainment on television, the internet and even in books and newspapers. Because of our acceptance of this mostly shallow entertainment we get less interested in more complicated issues, we don’t take the time to indulge into matters that take more than a minute to get into terms with.
The internet is to blaim, and commercialisation of just about everything around us.

I think that there is a great deal of truth in the argument, and yet I am unsure.

People have always looked for easy entertainment, from listening to the gossiping neighbour to reading cheap love- or supermanstories. The majority of people have always been oblivious to the more profound thoughts of their time.
The biggest change over the last decennia has been the growing accessibility of both the producing and receiving means of public information for a much larger age group. This means that we moved from a intellectual culture that was made by and aimed at persons of at least 25 years of age, to a culture where the participants are between 1 and 101 years old. It was for example not possible some 10 to 20 years ago to read thousands of articles, blogposts, comments and opinions by 12 to 20 year old people from all over the world.

Today’s technology makes every kind of information easily available to everybody and we can all ventilate our opinion in many ways. We are free to choose whatever tv-channel we want and we can read exactly what we want the truth to be in the many articles on the internet, not just what we are supposed to read or listen to.
The level of genuine interest in the more evolved and intelligent culture might still be the same, but it got company with the explosive growth of other interest groups.
Bookshops truly start selling to the masses, libraries change ideology, newspapers get even more shallow. Yes, but one could also say: The truth is coming out. We are what we are. Some of us read great literature, most of us read detective stories.
Should we worry about this or should we be happy that our real interest is visible now?
We have the choice to be critical, the freedom to make up our own mind, and make decisions about what we want to read, see or listen to.

Because that is what we need to do in our times of information overflow. We have to restrict ourselves to the things that really matter to us. A huge task indeed, as it is very easy to get seduced by unnecessary information, but what truly matters is available too, in large quantities. You just have to want to find it.

(Picture by Flickr user chuckyeager)

Limited Sources

There are texts on the internet that are so stupid that they irritate. Maybe we have too many voices. Many are screaming and trying to sound wise and some, probably to attract readers, abandon good sense or judgement.
I wish there was a method to exclude rubbish from good things. I suppose there is only one way: discipline in judging for yourself what you want to spent your time on .
I’d like to organize my attention in a way that is just like the best way to watch television: Check what programs will be shown before you turn on the television and decide what (if) you want to watch.
For the internet world that might be translated into: Keep your feedreader clean and healthy, limit the number of subscriptions as good as you can and be very aware if you surf outside it.

(Original spark: Peter Englund – Nyårslöfte).

Life should be obvious

This thought was somewhere in between my notes. It is from not too long ago, but I actually can’t remember where I got the inspiration from. It must have been a blogpost somewhere.

Life has to be a selvfølge (something obvious, literally: following its self), one does things because one has to. Because it is needed to survive or because one can’t stop doing it anyway. Any other thing will cost too much energy and will be experienced as something that doesn’t really matter. Accepting this also means accepting ones role in life. One can’t become more than one is, but one should continue looking at, training and exploring ones self. A whole world lies inside. Many things become obvious when one discovers the beauty of living and being.

I’ll try to follow the advice. Distraction comes o so easy, all things seems to be interesting, worthwhile or even important. But deep inside of us our soul (or whatever it is) only asks for certain things. To be truly productive and valuable to yourself means concentrating on this voice.

As I added to the thought (probably sarcastically – but that can’t cover up the well meant intention): Good luck!


Thomas Nydahl quotes regularly on his blog Occident from Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. Three days ago the quote was about monotony, stating that an existence should be monotonous in order not to be monotonous. When life is lived the same way every day, then every little thing becomes important, and every little change huge. Therefore one will notice and admire every idea, sound, motion.

It is insanely easy to get distracted in our life full of information and impulses, but where does it leave us?

This is linked to the idea that one can gain freedom by limiting oneself. Freedom is something inside of us, hence Pessoa’s quote from the same book:

Liberty is the possibility of isolation.

* Original: A liberdade é a possibilidade do isolamento.

* Source: “A Factless Autobiography”. Richard Zenith Edition, Lisbon, 2006, p. 246 via Wikiquote

Writing is done in isolation, so:

When I write, I solemnly visit myself.

* Original: Quando escrevo, visito-me solenemente.

* Source: “A Factless Autobiography”. Richard Zenith Edition, Lisbon, 2006, p. 287 via Wikiquote

These ideas are simple and old… and forgotten?

I suppose that most people are keen on rushing away from liberty and isolation in order to avoid hearing their own thoughts. It is indeed questionable whether on can function well in our society if one hears its own voice, if one truly feels and thinks. I doubt it will make you rich for example.

But what about happiness, satisfaction, tranquility?

For me, one of the most impressive moments in my life, the most intense, was when I became aware of the beauty and the strength of seeing that one, small plant flowering in the middle of the vast Icelandic desert of rocks and dust. In that  breath-taking monotony the experience of seeing this plant became so strong and clear that it had and has a key influence upon my life.