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I swear that I sat down with the full intention of writing this article, but here I sit with seven different tabs open.
In the middle of writing this sentence and the previous sentence, I took a personality quiz, checked my horoscope, browsed various online clothing stores, and called a friend. The concentration that it is currently taking me to remain on this Word document and not switch to another web page is giving me palpable anxiety.
Freshman Dori Franklin becomes distracted from her studies with the easy access of facebook and food. CUI's Lizzy Hernandez writes on ways to help staying focused on your studies. (CU Independent/Amy Leder)
Forgive me for live-blogging my life as if you were my online therapist, but my hopes are that you are using this article as a means of distraction and can sympathize with this universal dilemma. In a high-speed generation where we have the world (wide web) at our fingertips, it seems that we’ve lost something along the way — our attention spans.
There was a time in my life when I was capable of focusing on my tasks at hand. The fourth grade, for example, was a really successful time for me, and I’m sure I have some killer cursive-practicing worksheets to prove it. Unfortunately, it was not long after my stint in elementary school that the tenacious talons of media dug themselves into my innocent skin.
It started off seemingly harmless such as my new-found desire for television white noise while I was doing homework, but it quickly spiraled out of control. My creative writing assignments began to subconsciously take on the plot lines of whatever television program was playing in the background, so much so that a Freudian slip of “Kardashian” could be found amidst my sentences. Before I knew it, I found myself writing an essay on Hamlet that would result in me searching the archives of the Guinness Book of World Records website looking for information on the world’s biggest ham. I could not hold one notion for longer than a few minutes. My thoughts were pinballs running rampant in an all too accommodating age of diversion.
The most frightening aspect of it all is that I’m not just unfocused when partaking in a dreaded task like homework or chores. I no longer possess the attention span to sit through an enjoyable television show or tackle a pleasurable read. One minute I have an episode of “Saturday Night Live” streaming on my laptop, and the next, I’m searching for Lorne Michaels’ mailing address so I can send him my resume along with a letter begging to write for his show. A girl can dream, but can she wait twenty minutes for the show to finish? Evidently not.
If this sounds familiar, I have some suggestions that have helped me in my most attention-deficit of times. First, place restrictions on yourself. If it’s white noise you seek, listen to some music instead of turning on the television and risking the chance of being sucked in by the latest tiara-flaunting toddler on the screen. If you can’t fathom writing an entire essay without browsing other sites — and let’s be real, who can — then at least force yourself to write a paragraph before allowing yourself an allotted amount of time to freely surf.
Most importantly, follow through. Continue to ask yourself if it is truly necessary to immediately switch to whatever activity your heart momentarily desires, and if you find yourself faltering, maintain some dignity and carry on with your task. Police yourself. If you do a good enough job, you can even treat yourself to a donut at the end of the day like a real authority of the law.
I admit that it’s sad that we have to guilt, bribe and do just about everything short of shackling ourselves to our seats in order to hold consistent, productive thoughts. It is a harsh reality to accept that we are over-stimulating our poor brains to a breaking point, but I’m going to be an adult about it and embrace it. That being said, I haven’t had a break in about six minutes, and my fingers are itching to open a new tab. This is where I’ll leave you.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lizzy Hernandez at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Talking about the taboo