Monday, August 19, 2013

What EVERYTHING is doing to my brain

It’s funny how you can instinctively know something, and yet dismiss that innate wisdom as being some combination of impractical or not particularly do-able because of {convoluted reasoning that in hindsight is not so rock solid as you initially believed}.

Or say to yourself, oh pooh, you’re all up in arms over something that probably isn’t even a THING.

And you’ll convince yourself of this for the longest time, until somebody does a study that convinces you otherwise. At which point you can proudly say, “I knew it!” and claim to have had this information since long before it was, you know, out there.

Humans. We’re an odd lot.

For a rather long time, I’ve been finding myself less and less able to cope with something that is a fairly inescapable part of my daily life, both at home and (increasingly) at work: Constant input from multiple sources. Noise. Car horns. Train announcements. Blaring music. Conversations shouted over the general noise. Phones ringing. Researching five things at once. Getting sidetracked down rabbit holes while trying to figure out why something did what it did, even though it really doesn’t matter because we’ll never know why, it was a thing that happened because of other things, none of which are there anymore – so it’s like trying to recreate the exact shape and hue of a rainbow from last week’s storm so that we can force it to always have that exact shape and hue. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, the guy next to you is watching Netflix on their phone without earbuds. Crying babies. Crying executives.

Kids hawking things on the sidewalk between the BART station and the office. Krispy Kremes, treat your coworkers, only $600 a box, IT’S A FUNDRAISER, DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT {cause du jour}?! We’re really trying to earn enough money to SAVE THE WORLD here…

Take a survey. Answer my email. I left a voice message. Instant messages. Instant messages asking if they can call you ‘real quick’ – which comes through as your phone is already starting to ring. Hey, pay attention to ME. Like, RIGHT NOW. Right now right now right now DROP EVERYTHING AND DEAL WITH ME AND MY STUFF, RIGHT NOW.

All day, all night.

The only tool I have to defend against it…is a set of headphones, through which I pump yet more noise and/or input into myself. Over the top of the Other Noise. Drowning it out with different noise, which (I tell myself) is better noise because it is as least noise of MY choosing.

I’ve been noticing lately that I have less and less resilience around it, too. As if when I get up in the morning, I haven’t recharged my batteries or repaired my armor – instead, I’m instantly just as exhausted, irritable and otherwise frustrated when the very first offense occurs as I was when I finally sloughed off the last of the one more things from the night before so I could crawl into bed.

And I’ve been plagued, day and night, with that vague feeling that I’ve forgotten something. That there is something looming over me. A check I didn’t deposit? A bill I didn’t pay? A form languishing at the bottom of a drawer somewhere? Left the milk out? Batteries?

And I was right. Over and over and over again, I’d run nose-first into a wall completely covered with a Technicolor mural of the thing I’d forgotten. The obvious thing, the thing I totally knew I had to do, or deal with, or move from here to there.

But somehow, forgot until that very moment. DAMN IT.

And I’ve been thinking to myself that the thing that is killing me is that complete inability to actually get some peace and @^*&@ing quiet; to get a little solitude, a break from the constant nattering and nagging, to have even fifteen minutes in a given day that wasn’t interrupted by somebody slamming against my door screaming that they neeeeeed something.

The constant flood of distractions, all of them claiming – vigorously – to be vital, important, super-urgent.

All of them wrong.

And then I learned that there is a book I need to read: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains. The focus, obviously, is on the Google-effect – or rather, the email => Google => Facebook => YouTube => Google => Facebook => FailBlog => email => Twitter => GoogleTwitterFacebookWikipediaGoogleGoogleGoogle effect.

Y’all know what I’m talking about, right?

And this little video puts into words exactly what I’d been sensing was happening to me – but couldn’t prove or put into words myself very well.

This is what I’m up against; now, can somebody like me, who is easily distracted to begin with and “eats” information like an out-of-control sugarholic at an all-you-can-eat cake stand, actually do something about it, even if they know what they need to do to help themselves not lose their ever-lovin’ minds any more than they already have?

I have no idea. But I think I’d better make a strong effort at it, or I’m afraid I really am going to lose what little brain I have left.


The Incredible M. said...

1) It sounds like you could use a vacation. The kind you take alone. Even a day or an afternoon or something where you literally hole up in the middle of somewhere that there are no phones or outlets and just breathe and quiet your mind. If you can't make it out of civilization, the less well-traveled museums can offer the quiet of a freaking grave. If you can make it out, national parks will let you set up a tent away from everyone else. No human interaction. No outlet.

2) Earplugs. You can't wear them all the time, but they are AWESOME for when you just can't take the noise anymore. You can buy the cheapies by the crate at the drug store. If you like them, I'll vouch that the $60 I paid for custom silicone earplugs is some of the best money I have spent. They live in my purse and keep me from getting stabby/distracted. If someone needs me badly enough, they will track me down and tap me on the shoulder (at which point I may jump out of my skin, but it does discourage casual interruptions). Bonus: The vaccum and I are on better terms now.

3) Yoga/meditation? Forced quiet time might be your friend. I pay for a yoga class once a week which makes sure I actually do it, and it is lovely.

Anonymous said...

The solution to your problem...
Learn to code.

Mother of Chaos said...

HAAAA! Learn to code! BRILLIANT!!

Irvin said...