While preparing for the final debate in my Computer Science ethics class today, I was unnerved by a personal revelation. But, let me start from the beginning.
It was case study #24, or ‘Brain’ as dubbed by my professor. In the synopsis there was an odd set of instructions. He gave the link to a New York Times article, directions to write down each time and by what I was distracted, and wrote a little blurb about how he had his teenage daughter conduct the same experiment.
To my surprise, it was the most interesting case study I had read in the class. It discussed the decreasing ability of students to focus because of the mass of electronics and information at their fingertips. As instructed I kept a brief journal of each time I was distracted. I noticed something intriguing while reading the article. Like clockwork, I had glanced at my phone every five minutes to see if I had received a text or an email. Similar to how we train ourselves to wake up at a given time each morning this seemed more automated than anything. And what’s worse? I’m still doing it while writing this review even though I’m now aware of it.
On numerous occasions, I have heard it takes 21 times to make an action habitual. I wonder how many times I told myself to glance at my phone for updates before I stopped realizing I was doing it. I also wonder how I ‘glance’ at various things to check for something. More importantly, I wonder how much time I have lost as a result of losing my focus throughout each day. Oh, and remember my professor’s daughter? She sent 337 texts while ‘reading’ the article.
Time to turn off the phone.