Is Life a Distraction?

By David

The video game ‘Call of Duty: Black Op’s, grossed $1 billion in six weeks. This is equivalent to a massive one tenth of the revenue which all theatrical movies in America combined, gross in one year. The World of Warcraft (WoW) in just one month (March 2011), had over 11.4 million subscribers. For those in the dark, this is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).

The gaming guru at the last Texas global gaming convention declared gamers need to spend less time in the virtual life. Regardless of whether we are gamers or not, is it time we take heed?

A few years ago, our highly celebrated and national treasure, Vivienne Westwood, created her first manifesto - and said ‘The enemy is non stop distraction.’  This distraction comes in the forms of TV, radio, cinema, the internet, gaming, social networks, virtual worlds, and mobile phones. It’s inescapable.

American freelance Journalist, Satirist and Novelist Chuck Palahniuk  writes:

Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed."

This isn’t entirely a modern phenomenon, here is an excerpt by TS Elliot entitled ‘Distracted from distraction by distraction’

Neither plenitude nor vacancy.  Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before time and after.

Only now we have more than bits of paper to distract us.

Scientists would say that only that which can be measured in an empirical sense is real, and we can measure that which can be experienced through the senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Other (less traditional) senses could include temperature, kinesthetic sense, pain, balance and acceleration. 

Are they right?

Are we really making the most of our spectacular bodies and their miraculous senses, when we utilise just two of them, sitting in front of a screen? Are we honing muscles, are we fully switched on, is there any intensity in our concentration? Are we heading anywhere. Is what we are doing real? Are our lungs wholesome?

Or are we distracted from distraction by distraction?

Vivienne Westwood, has allegedly only watched TV twice in the last 10 years! Is her outrageous and uber creative productivity directly (or inversely) proportional to her armchair habits?

Am I suggesting we should chuck out the flat screens, plasma screens, i-pads, smart phones and i-pods? No I don’t think so, screen time has its place, in fact we are currently working on a film festival ( - nothing like a bit of shameless self promotion). But! maybe, just maybe, if we trimmed our screen time, inhaled deeply and fixed our eyes on the horizon, we could experience more, create more, enjoy more, and employ more of our senses.

Here’s to senses and sensibility.

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*Unless you including apps then it is Angry Birds - 140 million