Disconnect to Connect

Distractions are so common in our lives that they have become an accepted focal point of attention. We aren't discouraged from diversions. We're socially encouraged to be have our attentions drawn away.

I've been experiencing it as clutter because it depletes my experience. Recently when I've gone out to dinner with friends I found it hard to focus because there were multiple big screen TVs playing different channels above my friends' heads. I didn't want to watch TV, but it was an automatic draw. Plus I found it hard to talk with people when they are periodically looking up and reading the typed words on the bottom of the screen.

It's bizarre because going out is a way to do something different rather than staying home. But the TVs erased the experience of being out. The funny thing was I felt a big relief when we left the restaurant. It was soothing to be outside and focus on my friends again.

The encouragement of distraction also shows up with texts and cell phone calls. It's accepted for us to respond to a text or cell phone call while we're in the midst of an in-person conversation with someone. It's hard to not respond to the phone when it calls. There's an urgency and importance that goes along with the vibration and ring. But I've found it's a frustrating experience to be the person taking the call or text, or the person left waiting.

The distraction breaks my connection with the person I'm with. The funny thing is it's broken not by another connection, but a trained compulsion towards distraction. The hardest part is the distraction doesn't leave me feeling good. The disruption takes me out of the moment and puts me in a reactionary state.

I found this experience summed up in a commercial for a cell phone:

Lately I've found myself just letting the phone vibrate when I'm with someone and checking the voice-mail later. And I've said when someone's texting bothered me. They actually appreciated that I spoke up.