An ode to the unfocussed – AKA the death of conversation
Ever noticed how getting someone’s attention in full is practically an impossibility? There was a time, not so long ago, when you had to make intelligent conversation for the most part (the odd drunken ramble notwithstanding – oh, aren’t those awesome? I’ve been told about everything from the sizes of people underclothes to clandestine affair details to secret religious beliefs over the years in drunken rambles. Deliciously juicy… but I digress ;)).
Back then, people listened to you. And judged you wholeheartedly if you were a. boring b. stupid or god forbid, c. a windbag. The tags (not the meta kind) were endless if you look back a little.
Today though, thanks to the miracle of technology, we’ve been set free haven’t we? We’ve always got at least one eye on a screen or an ear out for a beguiling ‘ping’ telling us someone out there loves us more that the people we’re with. Gosh, what if I miss that inane comment someone made about someone else on still someone else’s status update? Or worse still, missed actual direct contact with my fourteenth cousin eight times removed on my mum’s side as she sends group IMs saying she’s rolled out of bed and plans to brush her teeth in a few minutes. I mean what would I do without that info?
People can actually live quite happily without talking to anyone today. Whole decision-making convos are typed out in something vaguely resembling English. Where letters god never intended to be put next to each other are forced to coexist in consonant purgatory. And are so excited about it, they pull out industrial quantities of punctuation to accompany them!!! (I have entire relationships on text and social too but the language is where I draw a line. No, sir! My texts will be in embarrassingly full sentences, giving away my GenX origins. And if that doesn’t, perhaps the ‘no sir’ will tell you how old I am.)
I mean, a few years ago when I watched the first Avengers movie, I even saw a chick miss The Hulk manhandle a lesser god, while she checked out a text, which probably told her about how she’d win a bar of candy if she was the thirty-second gazzilionth person to walk into XYZ uber-fashion on the third Sunday after World-lets-all-own-a-smartphone-day.
Sarcasm aside, I think it’s super liberating. Now we get to be as unfocused as we like on things. The commitment to commitment can die a peaceful death and we can just flit around being the masters of halfhearted multitasking. Awesome!
This is a modified version of a piece first published 3 years ago, when I lived in Dubai, on a blog I wrote previously called Diving in Eyeliner. Shocking how accurate it still remains. Maybe a little less surprising, though.