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As I sit on the couch, staring at the blank white computer screen, waiting for a thesis to pop magically into my head, I see a small square of light appear in my peripheral. I look over to see the blue notification:
Words With Friends: “Your Move with cookiemonster166.”
My hand involuntarily moves towards my iPod, and before I know it, I’ve spent 10 minutes calculating every possible move I can make and the highest point value I can get. I’ve spent 10 minutes obsessing about how many times I can hit a TW and deciding if it’s smarter to save my 10-point Z’s or Q’s for a better word.
If it’s not Words With Friends stealing my attention, then it’s some other game. The haunting tiki head of Temple Run stares at me and taunts me to play. I puzzle over the intricate drawings of my friends on Draw Something and slowly play my own equally intricate drawing.
And of course, I can’t stand the temptations of Angry Birds. I think of all the work I should be doing while my hand rhythmically pulls the slingshot back and releases.
Eventually I drag my attention back to the computer. With no plan for a thesis whatsoever, I decide to get some inspiration. I pop open a new tab and head off to the wonderful land of YouTube. I start out watching a funny Super Bowl commercial, then spend hours getting linked from video to video and end up watching keyboard cat.
Eventually my mom notices me laughing hysterically with myself and asks just what it was that is so funny about my homework. How it was that I started out writing a paper on Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and ended up watching videos of cats playing the keyboard? With no reason for watching the video, I return to the blank white screen.
It’s the smartphones, the iPods, the social networking sites that lead me astray when I’m trying to get something of importance done. I can waste hours of my day without even realizing it. I become absorbed in my games and forget about the real world.
I could text my sister who’s living across the world, but instead of being connected, I’m distant. Now I would rather text people than call them or talk face-to-face. I can put things in my notes or my calendar and set alarms to get organized. But instead of being organized, I’m flustered in trying to do a million things at once and reliant on my device to tell me what I’m supposed to do.
Although I hated it when people did it, I noticed myself slowly starting to do the same. I would text while my mom talked to me. I remember how rude I thought the people who did that were. And now, I’m slowly being sucked into the same virtual world.
As convenient and fun smartphones and tablets are to my everyday life, they’ve become a distraction. I’ve finally learned to delete most apps that distract me from work. I don’t text while someone is talking to me, and I’ve restricted myself from distracting websites while I’m trying to work.
I’ll put the phones, the iPods and the tablets away and sit with people. I’ll live in the real world and do one thing at a time. I’ll take my life slowly and live it to the fullest.
Instead of relying on my phone for reminders, I’ll sticky note it on the fridge. Instead of talking to the wonderful robot named Siri, I’ll look my mother in the eyes and have a nice conversation.
By Jude El Buri