Caught in a Web of digital distraction

I think the digital world is messing with my attention span.

I’m not kidding. I’m currently reading a couple of books and it is slow going, indeed. I can manage a few pages at a time, and then I have to bail out for a while. Of course, it could be that the books are just really boring, but still, it concerns me that at the six- or seven-page mark I start to get fidgety, and by the 10-page point I am ready to go do something else entirely.

This is quite a change from the behavior of my past, when I used to — as someone put it — drink books. It was nothing for me to come home from the store with Such-and-So’s latest edition and have it polished off in a day or two, if that long.

Not anymore. At least, not with the books I’m working on now. And as I said, I can’t help but think that our computerized, hurry-up, information-in-easy-to-digest chunks is at least partly to blame. (The other part is probably the fact that my brain is so full of useless junk that the synapses are misfiring out of sheer overload.)

Let me give you an example. One of the cool things about the Weird Wide Web (or, if you prefer, the Internets Thingie) is that you can pretty much find anything there, including (on occasion) information you can actually use. But it’s also easy to get distracted. I frequently find myself wandering through the Digital Thicket and getting so far off track that I forget what I was looking for in the first place.

Take the other day. I was looking for information about an old television show, thinking I might want to write about it. On the way (digitally speaking) to the source, I stumbled onto a site that specializes in old TV commercials.

Big diversion there. I spent a while reliving the days of my kidhood, wondering where the yellow went when I brushed my teeth with Pepsodent, seeing the USA in my Chevrolet, and remembering that Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.

Then I noticed a link to a site with old cartoons. Well, I couldn’t very well ignore that, could I? Especially when they were the good ones, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

That got me to remembering when they were on TV every day, which got me thinking to kiddie shows I liked, which brought Soupy Sales to mind, and then next thing you knew I was clicking on YouTube for episodes of Soupy’s show. One of them included Frank Sinatra, and that got me to thinking how good it would be to listen to him sing, and so clickety-click away I went and …

You see where this is going, don’t you? I get online and I’m like a bug, skittering around from place to place to place and never settling anywhere for long. And I never did get the information I was after, about the old TV show.

I don’t know if this is a natural consequence of being a Person My Age in this Brave New World, or if it’s just what happens when you spend too much time on Facebook, or if I am just losing what few marbles I had.

Maybe I should read up on it. Or try to, anyway.