What kind of things distract us? I think a lot of us would say that we spend too much time on social media. That’s me. Or we waste hours watching television or streaming our binge-favorites on Netflix. Then there’s YouTube. I have 253 YouTube subscriptions.
Reading. “What? Books are good,” you are screaming at me. Okay then, how many of you would rather read than spend time with your partner or friends? Right. I thought so.
For me, my imagination is a distraction. About ten years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote a sci-fictiony short novel that takes place in an alternate reality on an alternate planet. Even now I will take a dip back into that world that I created. I’ll come home from a hard shift on the day job and try to “meditate,” but instead imagine in my mind’s eye walking through that world interacting with my characters. I waste quite a bit of time there.
What about writing and art-making? “Wait a minute,” you say, “that’s what I SHOULD be doing. Those are the things that I get distracted FROM.” Really? I say even these can be just as addictive as any other of the aforementioned activities.
So it would seem that the more important question to ask is what are the things FROM which we are distracted? Could it be that we engage in addictive distractions to keep us from dealing with the things that we fear or the activities that would better this world? This is perfectly understandable. Who wouldn’t be afraid of global climate change? Or perhaps the start of World War III that will lead to nuclear annihilation? Poverty, disease, racism? And the things we fear don’t necessarily have to be on such a big scale. Maybe we are afraid to confront the deep traumas of our personal lives. Or perhaps we have been hurt so much by others that we are afraid to develop intimacy and community.
I know even my saying this probably makes some people uncomfortable. I don’t mean to be critical because I deal with the same things. And I certainly do not have a remedy.
So if messing around on Twitter or Facebook, or losing yourself in a good trashy romance novel helps you cope, then by all means do it. But just consider the consequences.