It’s been one of those days. The distractions have been non-stop, and I can’t control any of it. People, their stuff, meetings all around me, ringtones that sound like British police car sirens or instrumental Muzak piped into an elevator. Most days it wouldn’t bother me much, but today I’m battling a headache. Feels like I’m being stabbed in the back of my right eye with an ice pick.
I’m sharing this because I learned something from it. Just as the pain renders me incapable of tuning out the distractions and minor annoyances around me, the cacophony of voices and information to be found online can be paralyzing for some people. Where to go first? Whom to believe? And what about that inner voice?
A friend told me once that she stopped taking our newspaper because, although she loved it, she felt guilt over not having time to read it cover to cover. Another friend once said that she felt obligated to read every word — I mean EVERY word — in a book, and therefore, she could never skim a book. (I’m a proponent of skimming, which may help explain my love of graphic novels and manga.)
I wonder how these women feel about content online, where clicking on a link, and another, and another, will take you as deep and as far from the original set of words as you care to go. Does the guilt eat them up?
At the other end of the spectrum are my techy friends, who can’t abide and simply won’t read lengthy articles — online or print. They feel no guilt whatsoever over what they might’ve missed. The cacophony of voices is melodious to them.
Most folks, I suspect, fall somewhere in between — depending on that day’s tolerance for pain and distractions.