Amusing ourselves to death, Choking the Soul to distraction, Coming Alive, De-weaponizing our space from distraction, Demilitarized Zone for your Soul, Distraction, Distractions, Energy Sucking Stress, Fidget Spinners, Fill Your Well, Focus and be Present, Neil Postman, Posture of a New Age, Reduce the Noise in your life, Sarah Bessey, Self Comfort vs Self Care, Social Media, Weapons of Mass Distraction, Written word most effective
These are the days in which we live. We live with weapons of mass distraction.
Of course there’s always been distraction in ever generation; it just seems this one has perfected it.
Do we really need fidget spinners? Or as Germany found out – do we need 35 metric tons of fidget spinners!?
Trust the Frankfurt Custom Officers to stop the shipment right there! The stated reason: choking hazard.
No kidding! If not choking the body – surely choking the soul to distraction!
Let’s face it: we live in distracting times, and we’re just now becoming alarmed by the extent to which we are being distracted. As I wrote in “Posture of a New Age“:
“We are relational creatures who thrive on healthy interconnections, in person, in trust, and acceptance. The sugar-drop blips of excitement one gets from their devices, though immediate, have a erosion factor built in. We get little techno-highs lesser and lesser, but we need relationships more and more.”
How is it that Neil Postman saw this in 1985 when he published “Amusing Ourselves to Death“? It seems practically prophetic to know this was written over 35 years ago – well before “social media” was a term.
Finding Time, Energy, and Inspiration
Among the potential amusements and distractions, Sarah Bessey is a prolific writer/blogger who speaks to “12 Best Practices for Finding Time, Energy, and Inspiration to Write.” Here are two of those 12 best practices:
Fill Your Well
“I believe we write out of the well of our soul so fill up your soul with what makes you alive. What brings you alive? What clears your mind? What fills your soul? Do those things instead of the other things. Take time to figure it out – your list will be different than mine. Write down a few things that you can turn towards to fill the well. You can’t write from an empty well and so whenever you can, fill your well.
And here’s something VERY important: learn the difference between self-comfort and self-care… Self-comfort has a place – the Netflix binges, the bad food, the laying on the couch for a day of reading, all good things. Self-comfort is about numbing.
But self-care is about coming alive. Self-care is what fills the well of your soul. For me, I fill my well in a lot of ways: I love to read good books. I love to read poetry. I spend a lot of time in scripture and in prayer. It surprises people to know how much home-making fills my well – having a clean and relatively well-run household clears so much space in my mind, it’s ridiculous but there it is. I roll with it. Even as an introvert, I need vital and good friendships – I find it impossible to write with any real authenticity about community if I’m not ENGAGED in community. I need alone time. I need time out in the wilderness… Figure out what fills your well and honour that need.”
Reduce the Noise in Your Life
“… Just as some things fill your well, some things drain the well. For me, I know what stresses me out and so that means I do actually structure my life around avoiding some of that energy-sucking stress.
For instance, I have no notifications on my mobile or on my computer. None – I cannot focus or read or be present or write or even be a person if my phone is pinging with every comment or message all day. I avoid texting with anyone…
I never get a notification about an email or a Voxer or a Facebook comment unless I log into that thing. I can’t concentrate or even live my life with a constant pinging. I’ll lose my ability to focus and to be present which informs my work. That’s a small example but there are many others – think about what sucks your energy, big and small, and look for ways to manage that proactively. We’re not as powerless as we think.”
This is a good place to start as we consider de-weaponizing our space from distraction – and begin to create a kind of Demilitarized Zone for your soul.
The Irony of this Blog
It is not lost on me to know I use this blog-form of social media to communicate more enigma than dogma. The small comfort to this irony is what Shannon Watkins writes:
“As Neil Postman argues in his book “Amusing Ourselves To Death,” “learning to be critical and to think conceptually and rigorously do not come easily to the young but are hard-fought victories.” Even though there are many ways to learn, Postman suggests the written word is most effective in training students to think about complex ideas.”
Shannon Watkins, policy associate at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, in Robesonian.