From smartphones to internet news, our modern world is filled with distractions which suck time. While it’s easy to blame technology for the sorry state of modern human attention, one could argue it’s only amplifying human intention and seeking to create more leisure time we all crave. While I’d like to say I’m a shinning example of productivity all of the time, I freely admit technology and distractions get the best of me sometimes as well. I tend to think of them as “fuzzy” intangible things that make me happy but often leave me with a dizzying sense of “where did the time go” come end of day. Here are a few of my guilty time sucks.
- Digital Adventures
An unashamed gamer since the 90s, gaming is still one of my oldest time sucks. Whether its traversing through Kanto, swinging through the streets of Gotham, or tinkering in a sandbox pretending to build “perfect” cities, the possibilities are truly endless. Gaming I’ve found over the years offers an escape from reality and presents the opportunity to participate in a larger story. The best example I’ve been able to conjure up for non-gamers is it’s like a good combination between a live action movie and riveting novel that you get to control. Video games when masterfully engineered create a time hole that sucks you in with the promise of more adventure, plot twists, and visual beauty just around the next corner.
- Tweet, Post, Snap
I’m not young enough to be a social media native but I got a pass to enter the theme park of digital connectivity early on when I started college. I even managed to convince a group of my high school friends to help me take a series of photos I could use for “The Facebook.”Ever since I’ve been fascinated by the power of digital media to transform how people connect and engage.It seemed like overnight that communication had transformed from a rigid process into a fluid exercise of human thought and experience. That however is where the time suck’s vortex starts however. With traditional content gatekeepers removed and the keys to the printing press distributed widely to the masses, cherished programming blocks and publications which used to guard what was “news” and information crumbled; untightening the spigot and unleashing the new firehouse of content.Online content and digital media is both powerful and draining. So as someone who occasionally gets caught drinking too much from the firehouse, drink with care, take a break, and come up for air occasionally, drowning in it all is a very real danger.
If a time suck could be good, this one would be it. Ever since living next to a large library when I was younger, I’ve been hooked on the idea of getting lost in library stacks. Before I had access to the internet the library was my primary go-to for information. While the purpose of libraries is rapidly evolving, the importance of it being a space to gather and learn still remains. It’s not written anywhere specifically but the invitation to come, sit for a bit, and learn something new echos throughout the building.To this end and more recently as I discovered Seattle Public Library will deliver books to your nearby branch from any branch in the system, I once again found myself sucked in by libraries and books. My Foursquare account can vouch for me, I’m there too frequently picking up books and movies. Unfortunately, books in a smaller way are endless; there is no way for a human to possibly consume all of the world’s written content. This often leaves me with stacks of books on my desk that are partially read or remain unread. So approach with caution, library stacks and book spines contain time sucks of their own.
- Coffee Conversations
I honestly didn’t like coffee until the late oughts… True story, despite living in the Seattle area for most of my life. Growing up among suburban sprawl and rapidly suburbanizing farm land, coffee shops didn’t make sense. After all, why would you drive all the way to a specific store which sells just one thing and sit for an extended period of time. It just didn’t make sense.Walking the streets of Seattle, it finally clicked. Among the bustling energy of the Emerald City, there was a subtle call to take a break from the dripping raindrops, beautiful vistas, and next big thing. A good place for this type of dialogue I found was in one of Seattle’s many coffee shops.In between learning coffee lingo and ways to avoid it for sometime, I came to enjoy the interactions I frequently had while visiting coffee shops. Coffee shop talk as I came to appreciate is a great way to hit pause, enjoy the moment, and breakdown walls to better understand the person peering across the table from you – device and guard often removed.
Take it all with a grain of sugar however. While great, sitting across the table from someone at a coffee shop can sometimes feel like a time suck. That hour you set aside for a much needed catch-up quickly dissolves and just as you’re starting to feel the caffeine kick-in, your phone buzzes, reminding you, time is up.
Distractions, good and bad are part of the human experience; they help us take a much needed break from the daily hustle around us. Sometimes its fascinating to wonder what life would be like without them but the better question to ask is, would we want to?
Those are some of my frequent distractions. What are some of yours; are they vices or escapes?
[Writing Prompt via Daily Page]