Reading Time: ~5 minutes
Right now, I am trying to write an article. Unfortunately, Pandora is playing. I need to be ready to brand any unwanted song with a thumbs-down or encourage a good song with a thumbs-up. I also have my e-mail open, which I may or may not arbitrarily visit when I finish a paragraph. If I get a new e-mail, it could be a notification from Facebook.
That may warrant a visit to Facebook, where I will be assaulted by the latest activities by some guy I haven’t seen in a year and a half, a guy who has just posted pictures of his new motorcycle, with himself tagged as the motorcycle. When I arrive at my social destination- perhaps a wall post from my friend asking when we will get drunk together again or a photo comment from someone else’s friend on a photo I took- I will sit there and contemplate writing a response. This process could take anywhere from five to fifty minutes. Facebook has made everybody a politician. You’ve got to maintain your image.
Back to the article. Hopefully, I won’t feel the urge to talk about something I saw on the Daily Show. Speaking of that reference, that makes me think of Jon Stewart’s recent Glenn Beck impersonation. Hm, Glenn Beck. How did he get started? I should fire up Wikipedia so I can copy and paste an obscure, wholly irrelevant fact into my article. Wow, did you know he never went to college? No wonder he’s so ill-informed about the definition of socialism.
I didn’t want to look that up, though, I wanted to look up ADD, because I vaguely recall that it might not exist. Either no one has it or everyone has it. Then again, what’s ADHD? Wikipedia redirects me from “ADD” to “ADHD.” Does that mean that ADD is no longer a valid acronym?
Wikipedia defines ADHD as a “neurobehavioral developmental disorder.” So, literally, your brain is improperly developed to behave. Because everyone knows that “behavior” is an objective concept. Maybe ADHD afflicts only people who know the term ADHD. Do Masai tribesmen also suffer from ADHD? Hold on, I’m not quite sure who Masai tribesmen are… well, there’s too much text in the Wikipedia entry, and too little of it is in bold. Forget this.
I am invoking ADHD in its purely conceptual sense. Our generation suffers from the inability to focus on almost anything for a long period of time. We are becoming more and more accustomed to instant gratification in every single way. Forget spell-check. Half the time, that’s done auctomatically. If it isn’t, we can easily go to the red, squiggly line and… well, only if we’re still paying attention. Nowadays, if we have a question about anything and access to the Internet, we will have the answer within thirty seconds.
That question can be related to something obscure, like the Masai, or it can be about someone’s new motorcycle, haircut, baby, husband, medical emergency… hold on, I need to mute the computer while Pandora tells me about Netflix.
We get frustrated when there aren’t highlighted, one to three sentence answers to our questions. Capitalism is about efficiency and we are now living in a knowledge economy. Our knowledge is becoming increasingly instantaneous, while the process of acquiring that knowledge is being reduced to economy size. When was the last time you sifted through each and every page of a paper by David Hume? Not only is it easier to read a summary, you learn more, too.
That’s the most startling fact of our generation: Sparknotes is teaching us more than the actual work of literature. Don’t even try to deny it. We are constantly forgoing the delicate, meandering journey through facts and abstractions and musings, instead favoring an immediate leap from ignorance to knowledge. We are starting to think of thinking itself in capitalist terms. We don’t have patience for novels that teach us some reverberating lesson about humanity, we’d rather just immediately obtain and record the lesson itself, along with several memorable quotes from an otherwise forgettable block of text.
Unbelievably, my phone just rang. My concentration is broken. Phones demonstrate the phenomenon of our impatience more than anything else. Think how frustrating it is when people don’t answer their phone. It seems almost impossible to us that a person would be without their phone at some point. Worse still are text messages. Each one is an obligation. If you don’t reply within a few hours, people will get offended. Phones used to only enslave you to one person’s conversational needs. The possibilities are now limitless.
Do you think it’s a bad thing that our very brains are entering the grid of capitalistic evaluation?We accuse hefty readings of being wastes of our time because they often only impart an ambiguous kind of knowledge, something that needs to be excavated from page after page of inconsequential rambling.
The art of analyzing information has now become the art of analyzing the analysis of that information. We skim scholarly articles, pull out meaningful quotes, and read paragraphs with interesting sentences. We save time doing this and we get more done. The value of our education is set against the clock. Find the way to the learn the most in the least time possible. In the end, isn’t that the basis of capitalism?
I feel like this article needs some polish. I didn’t really illustrate my point with maximal clarity. But, on the other hand, I’m bored.