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Allowing Myself To Wander

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 22, 2013 in Personal |

There are one or two minor problems with writing a paper when you are using your Internet computer, researching online as you write and trying not to get distracted from the task at hand. The main one is that you do get distracted from the task at hand, and that very easily indeed. Not, I have discovered, necessarily in the manner that you wish and certainly not in a manner which would be of advantage. It has a little bit to do with some of those meme sites with a Next button, and the hope that their offering will improve or, at the very least, show some spark of originality and humor. Occasionally it does both but, mostly, there is just a sigh and the ‘just one more’ thought in the hope of improvement. Rather similar to be scrolling down through my Tumblr dashboard of naughty photographs posted by other people….

Viktoria Michaelis: Social Media Attention Spans and Research

And then there is something else, something which is not pleasant at all and which I have begun noticing in myself. A lack of patience, a desire to move on quickly and, as a result, skipping or not bothering to read some items in any great detail if at all.

I got caught out recently with just this little fault. An article on why immigrants change their names when moving to a new country. We all know of Ellis Island, at least the name says something for many, many people in the States even if they don’t really know why or where it is. Ellis Island was the staging post for immigrants coming into the States – you might remember it being featured in a minor comedy film called Hitch a while back – and I knew this but didn’t bother checking my facts. Ellis Island was first used in 1892, but I made the mistake of claiming it was used in the nineteenth century, which is only partially true and, therefore, not acceptable.

I find it a lot when I have a long piece, on the Internet, to read for any reason. If it isn’t broken up with photographs or some form of illustration – heck, even advertisements would do! – my eyes and mind get weary and I either skip or give up. Not the best way to do research, as I am sure you’ll agree. The Internet malady.

Funnily enough, with books it is completely different. I enjoy reading what is on a printed page and am loath to stop, even when I have the information that I need. In fact I simply devour books and zap web sites, although I have never considered this to be a problem at all.

With the Internet we should have all the information we need at our fingertips, providing we know where to look and can get through an irrelevant site, or long list of sites with good SEO, unscathed. The fact that it is also the biggest time-waster – well, after television, that is – bothers no one as long as you aren’t just watching porn, ogling nude women or men (that’s my piece of SEO for this post), or playing senseless games on Facebook.

Viktoria Michaelis: Social Media Attention Spans and Research

What happens on the Internet, especially in social media, translates itself into our daily lives too. We lack patience, we need to get through quickly to find something else, we need to get on. Time is money, time is precious, you only live once and all that. We cut people off when we think we know what they’re going to say. We allow ourselves to be interrupted, distracted, in the middle of a conversation – even a date, I’m told – when our cell phone rings. We have problems setting priorities.

Which is one of the reasons why I regularly go away from my computer, why I turn off the Internet – not for everyone, just for me, but the thought is a good one – and do something else. Yesterday is a good example. I didn’t post anything by me yesterday, I took the opportunity to research and begin my paper away from the Internet and left you with a Guest Post although, looking back at it, not such a bad thing to do either. Now and then it’s good to have someone else writing and sharing their opinion, their experiences. And today I spent the time checking facts. I don’t want to fall into the false information trap again! Articles on the Internet can be amended, can be updated and corrected. Papers you’ve handed in are gone. They are complete, done, finished, unattainable for those niggling little things which could have been done better if only…

Reading my first books on Zen, a recent gift, I came across much the same idea. Someone who is trying to meditate, trying to concentrate and clear their mind will be attacked – what better way to put it – with distracting thoughts. The recommendation here is to allow the distracting thoughts, to work through them right to the bitter end so that they don’t keep on coming back. It works with Zen, I am sure, but not when you have a deadline for that all important term paper.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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3 Comments

  • Francois says:

    Interesting aside, alexa.com returns the following for top search queries leading to your site:

    1 victoria michaelis 38.29%
    2 viktoria michaelis 37.91%
    3 people looking for travel adventures 20.10%
    4 absatzoptimierung 3.70%

    Stretching my not inconsiderable imagination, I can see what the first three may have to do with boobies, especially #3. what would be a travel adventure without?

    However, sales optimisation in the broad context of boobies, or the focus of this blog?

    Another interesting aside: interesting asides are a pure nuisance for the paper-writing student as well as the aspiring Zen nun.

  • Francois says:

    Well, you cannot be a monk. You are dooming yourself to Zen laïcité.

    Alexa shows roughly 80% of search queries entering your site to be your putative name. I can easily believe that.

    Boobies, boobs, boob, mmm… as an internal search within your blog, of course. Google would return so many completely irrelevant and useless results on the “boobies” query that I cannot imagine anyone wasting their time.

    Someone should query “boobies” on Google and see what happens. I would but I am too lazy.

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