The alarm goes off, it’s time to wake up. Hurry because work already starts in two hours. Just before you step into the car you eat your breakfast and at the same time you tie your shoes and watch the latest news headlines on your smartphone. By passing some orange traffic lights you managed to reach your work on time. Your boss wants you to reach today’s targets. This proves challenging with all the issues at the office today. ‘Let’s go home’ your colleague says seemingly out of the blue, indicating it’s time to leave. Another day at work is over. Time flew by and you just managed to get the job done. Your boss is happy. By the time you reach home you are exhausted. In between cooking and washing yesterday’s dishes you catch a glimpse of what’s on TV, apparently another terrorist attack occurred in some far away country. After dinner you find yourself on your favorite chair scrolling through all the amazing holiday pictures of your friends on Facebook. Not long after you fall asleep watching that Netflix series everyone talked about at work. A moment of rest before everything repeats itself.
Apparently the scenario I just sketched seems like a normal day, but what’s troubling me about this is that there seems very few time to think and reflect. Not just about life in general, but about the things we read and see on a daily basis. In the information age we are for the first time connected to the rest of the world instantaneously. But at the same time we have so many distractions and there is so much daily content to sift through that it becomes nearly meaningless. The problem I personally experience as well is that I no longer have the time nor the attention span to analyze important information when it hits me in the face.
As an example, today I have been able to read around a few dozen Facebook posts and another handful of news articles. But the book I bought at a Tesco sale about the human brain is still laying in the closet. In other words, snippets of random information are filling my mind while sources with more far reaching content remain untouched.
This might be a small personal catastrophe that can be thrown in the wind as digital media replacing the old fashioned book, but when I look around I do not appear to be the only one that is affected by this info-shallowness syndrome.
The question I ask myself is do we really know what is going on and do we really understand the problems that are facing society? Or are we too busy, too distracted, too shallow to reflect on what is going on? Analyzing my own behavior and what I see around myself I have to conclude the latter. I honestly believe it does not have to be like that and that slight changes in the way our daily lives are organized can make a major difference.
To fall back on the scenario I started this post with, what if in stead of waking up in the middle of the night the working day started at noon. In stead of quickly stuffing away your breakfast and doing everything to rush to work it be more relaxing and natural to wake up and go to work during day time hours (the same would imply for studying by the way). At work it thereby be convenient to not be thinking in terms of targets and profits all the time, but to create an environment that stimulates your well being to eventually perform better and go home with a clear mind.
This would then allow you to sift through the messages and media with a sharper mind, filtering out what is important and what is not. Perhaps by the weekend this would even allow you to free up enough mind power to read an actual book about something more meaningful than the day to day. In other words, a slight change in the way we work and organize society could make a big difference in how we think and ultimately make choices, such as on who we vote or perhaps who we decide to marry.
If you have been able to reach this far into my post than I would like to thank you for your perseverance and it would imply that there are still plenty of souls out there that are paying attention. My hope for a more reflective society resides in you.