short attention span theatre…

Twenty years ago, I loved the comedy show called Short Attention Span Theatre. Lately, I keep being reminded of it…  what has happened to us? Our culture cultivates and rewards having the attention span of a gerbil (I never lived with one, but I am told they are very fickle with their focus!) We have to be in constant contact with our 183 closest friends, but we want to keep it to 140 characters or less. We text instead of talking, message instead of writing, tweet because the world as we know it will cease to exist if everyone doesn’t know what we’re doing at least 5 times a day!

I must confess, I am dipping my toes in the murky waters of facebook these days, and trying to understand the draw, and the meaning of it all. A few times, I have gotten involved in a very interesting conversation thread with some pretty cool folks. But so much of the chatter seems to be just that! Chatting for the sake of keeping up some strange, fragmented sense of contact and connection. I find myself yelling at the names on my computer screen “Don’t you have anything better to do? Just pick up the damn phone and have an actual conversation with an actual person!”

But, I keep checking in on my facebook wall, waiting for something amazing to happen, someone amazing to appear, and want to be my “friend,”or to stumble into the conversation that will change my life… And I keep wondering, what is it about these times we are living in, that we are so drawn to this kind of communication, so addicted to the continual flow of random connections and  other people’s stream of consciousness?

And what does it mean to our systems that everything is so rushed, so brief, so constantly being updated? Are we re-wiring our brains to be unable to be calm, to slow down and  hold our focus, perpetuating a culturally created form of ADD? In movement and bodywork, we find awareness and healing in the slow unfolding of the body, the gentle flow of energy, the long, luxurious space of breath… Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum movement talks about the effects of speed on our bodies, how it causes our tissue to contract and become more dense.

So does our loss of spaciousness in our connection with each other cause our hearts to become contracted and dense? Or is this new world, where the shyest high school wallflower can have hundreds of “friends,” actually opening our hearts, expanding our sense of our tribe, expanding our sense of who our people are…

Please, let me know what you think. And PLEASE, don’t feel the need to keep it to 25 words or less. I promise to read the whole thing, even if I have to stop several times to check my email!

Yours in peace and spaciousness,


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Diane Carey - August 9, 2010

Enter your comments here… I’ve thought about the Facebook phenomenon, as well. There are pros and cons, and it depends on the individual of course.
So many people are under time constraints, they feel that texting or “facebooking” someone allows them to say something quickly, without having to enter into long conversations…………or perhaps some things are easier to write, rather than say.
But in reference to contracting vs opening hearts: to some, the shallow connections of “friends” gives a false sense of connection—witness those who “count” how many friends they have, as if it were a badge of honor…..even though they may not know many (or most) of those facebook friends. It gives a false sense of being part of something. Maybe for some, that’s not a bad thing….it could give them more courage to take part in the real world eventually.
On the other hand, for some it’s a network where they can find help, advice, be courageoous enough to risk words and behavior they wouldn’t ordinarily exhibit. (Not always a good thing, that anonymity.)
We ARE losing the ability to slow the pace, to think real and deeper thoughts, to be at home with ourselves and not need entertainment from outside forces. But does it teach us a more shallow way to deal with people? I think yes. I mourn the loss of the art of well-written letters that can explore thoughts in depth, that can clarify thinking. (Old Saying: How can I know what I think, ’till I see what I say?) Journaling and letter-writing can do this, exposing connections in your own thoughts you might not have realized before seeing it written down.
Yes, it has worthwhile purposes for some, but we may be losing something bigger in the process. We need to reassess the speed of life, and take the steps to slow it down and live it with some depth. Diane

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