We have all heard about our “ADD Nation” or the generation of young adults who are “too plugged in.” I was thinking about how, at all times, I am focusing on one of many distractions in my life, a book I am reading, an audiobook I am listening to, a Netflix series I am marathoning, etc.
I would not consider myself ADHD. I am not hyperactive, I do not have trouble with attention, but the argument could be made that, in today’s pop culture and society, there is a certain amount of hyper-multi-tasking expected; hyper-attention to numerous concurrent pieces of your life. At work, with friends/family, social media, cell phones keeping us connected to each other and available to each other at all times…
There was a time when I only read one book at a time, but we don’t just have one work assignment at a time. We don’t have one friend at a time. But I figured, focus on this one, power through, then move on to the next. I’ll go through books faster that way, won’t get bogged down, won’t forget what was going on, etc. That doesn’t work for me now. Part of that is a technology shift, part of that is a life shift. When I was younger and in college, I didn’t have much down time for reading for pleasure. When I did, focusing on one book made sense. But now, I don’t have a whole lot of intellectual endeavors in my life unless I create them. So, I have a book I am reading or kindle-ing. I have an audiobook for the car, the gym, walking the dog, folding laundry, etc. I read out loud with my husband books we want to share. And then there are the shows. I am a master at the art of a Netflix marathon on slow weekend days, freezing winter nights, or background noise for working from home; and I also watch shows live on TV or DVR’d with my husband.
Hard to juggle/keep straight, you ask? No. They’re all different and engaging my brain in different ways. I try not to mainline two shows about similar topics at the same time, because it does get confusing (Scandal and House of Cards, omg so hard to keep track of which is which). Historical fiction and sci-fi, easy to keep separated.
When at work, I stay tuned in to Twitter for news and updates about the world, funny links, and so on. It is my link to the real world while I sit (now stand – just got a stand up desk) at work and stare at a screen all day.
So when is my brain’s time to be creative, flow naturally, take a break? I was thinking about this and realized that really the only time I am not tuned into something is when I am hiking or with a friend / family / husband. Do I need to force myself to slow down, to meditate, to do more yoga (omg, yes, I am so not bendy)? Or are these pieces of my life what enriches me now? I am 31, recently married, don’t yet have kids, like my job but am not obsessed or working overtime or anything. I have great family and friends, but I spend a lot of time on my own, as is the nature of working and living in the suburbs.
I really think that having these distractions, alternate realities I can enjoy, and sometimes share with others, really make me a more interesting person, give me things to talk about, to suggest to others. Some people follow international news, fashion trends, real housewives… I follow books and shows and my friends/family. I have a GoodReads account to track books I have read, books I want to read, suggestions from others, so that when people say, hey any book suggestions for me, I can say, why yes, let me go through my lists. I like sharing that with people. And I like reading others’ suggestions to better understand them, their preferences, and to engage with them.
In another life, I was a Hobbit in a reading nook…