Wednesday, January 26, 2011

facebook is ruining my brain

I swear, I used to have an attention span. At least I think I did, back in the days when I was a kid who genuinely thought learning was fun.

Though I didn't have to, I would spend a weekend memorizing the postal codes and capitals for all 50 states, writing 15-page letters to my best friend R. (which I would then mail, even though I was going to see her at school the next day), and learning the defining characteristics of every breed of cat (did you know the majority of calico cats are female?).

My pretty calico girl Phoenix wants in from the porch.

At some point, probably when I got sick of the other kids copying my homework but making no effort to extend their friendly overtures beyond the amount of time it took them to get the information they needed, I decided to start playing dumb. I purposely answered questions wrong on biology and math tests. I stopped raising my hand in class. I pretended to think the books we were reading in language arts class were stupid (except To Kill a Mockingbird, which so totally captured my imagination that I forgot I needed to pretend. My best friend R. and I probably read it to each other back and forth over the phone ten times, and we even left Boo Radley-style gifts for her neighbors).

I like to think that somewhere beneath my current mess of daily boredom and distractions still lies the girl who would eat Hershey's minatures to the point of puking to have enough wrappers to build a cover for her book of whiny high school poetry, but sometimes I wonder at the sheer deterioration of my attention span and lack of determination. I suppose I could blame my inability to get to bed before midnight, or my infatuation with red wine, or my multitude of misguided and just plain bad choices, but mostly I just blame Facebook.

Facebook is always there, and especially now that I have a BlackBerry, it's always available. I've probably checked it 15 times while writing this blog post. Facebook is a lot like that friend who "forgets his wallet" every time the two of you go to the bar. You want to play a game of pool or hit on that hot chick, but so-and-so needs another beer, dammit, and for some reason you have to oblige.

Facebook allows me to see others' private -- and sometimes triumphant, sometimes painful -- lives in bite-size, easily digestible snippets. In fact, similar to the way obese people or alcoholics say their problems happened "slowly, and then all at once," Facebook has slowly whittled away at my ability to focus and made my natural penchant for voyeurism so accessible (I'm kind of a creeper/peeping tom -- if you leave your shades open, I will look in) that I find myself unable to finish reading a short story or watching the State of the Union address without checking the feed of status updates.

For granting me the ability to simply click a button and be barraged with an onslaught of mostly mindless drivel, I blame Facebook for reprogramming my brain to require immediate, rapid-fire channels of information and instant gratification. My own lack of self-control notwithstanding, giving a peeping tom/creeper/voyeur unlimited access to the daily grind of other people's lives (granted, carefully maintained and filtered access, but that's a whole other blog entry) is similar to giving a compulsive gambler unlimited lines of credit at the casino.

So screw you, Facebook; screw you.

1 comment:

Danny Alexander said...

I love how you undercut your own thesis every step of the way, although I know you're not being disingenuous at all. The Boo Radley gifts, that's one to come back to!