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Ch. 10 - The Culture of Distraction 
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Post Ch. 10 - The Culture of Distraction
Chapter 10 - The Culture of Distraction

Please use this thread for discussing Chapter 10. :)



Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:09 am
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The more time people spend before the computer screen or any screen, the less time and desire they have for two human activities critical to a fruitful and demanding intellectual life: reading and conversation. The media invade, and in many instances destroy altogether, the silence that promotes reading and the free time required for both solitary thinking and social conversation. p. 247

:idea: Although you're reading this on a computer screen, perhaps this chapter is preaching to the choir on a web site called BookTalk? 8)

:idea: However, is anyone NOT feeling distracted? :cry:



Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:37 pm
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LanDroid -

I guess I'm in a unique situation. I live in a country where practically nobody speaks English and, although I speak Laos, I don't speak it well enough to have a really good conversation with anyone. And, since practically nobody reads books (or anything else except the occasional textbook), it's impossible to have a conversation about anything other than what the neighbors are doing, who is pregnant and by whom, or do I prefer Laos beer to Laos whiskey. And my students are much more interested in the latest antics of David Beckham or Madonna than they are in learning English, so I am always hungry for conversation. When my English-speaking friends visit, once or twice a year, I talk their ears off.

That's where BookTalk comes in - I feel that I am having a conversation and, with any luck, making some new friends here.

So, I have to say, Thank God (or Buddha or whomever) for the internet and CNN and BBC (and even TV5 from France, Ophelia). Without them, I would really start climbing the walls.

But a really interesting conversation with friends, over a gin and tonic on a hot Sunday afternoon - well, you can't beat that.

So, one man's distractions are another man's lifesavers, no?

I realize that for most people in the world, there are far too many distractions, good and bad. I haven't heard a Christmas carol or been barraged by the "buy this, buy that" culture in years - and that's good.

Ralph



Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:41 am
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Ralph:
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So, one man's distractions are another man's lifesavers, no?


In this case, I agree. I would much rather have the opportunity to discuss books, poetry, ideas and current events face to face, but the opportunity does not present all that often. I started a book club at work and after the first two books it has been a struggle to get more than 2 of us together at anyone time. Our local library runs book talks & clubs, but the timing never seems to fit my schedule. The internet has provided me with a much appreciated intellectual outlet.

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Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:29 am
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Saffron -

Exactly! "The opportunity does not present all that often."

But life is never perfect, is it? It's a trade-off; many times we have to give up something we want for something we want even more. Every time I start thinking about what I don't have, I remind myself that life is all about choices, and my life is the life I chose. If I am unhappy with my choices or they aren't working for me, change them (or quit bitchin', anyway).

I wish I had been a professional wrestler. Or an aerialist in the circus. Or could sing German lieder. And on and on, but I guess I never really wanted to do these things, or I would have. So, I made different choices.
And, happily, things have turned out pretty well. Not perfect, but if life were perfect, what would we have to strive for?

I hope your life choices are working for you.

Ralph



Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:04 pm
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Ralph,
You have made my day! I do the same thing, remind myself that this is the life I have choosen.
Saffron


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Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:52 pm
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Saffron lent me a book I was interested in reading. It's called Stumbling Into Happiness. Because I've been too distracted, I haven't read that much of it yet. But one of its main points is that we may strive for happiness, but we aren't that great at judging what will make us happy. Furthermore, we can end up being unexpectedly happy under circiumstances that might have seemed impossible to us before we were in them. This is a comforting message, when you think about it. We're greatly urged to take the reins of our own lives, leaving as little to chance as possible to get us where we want to go. But we're not in total control and we might not want to be there when we arrive, anyway. I'm still in favor of planning, don't get me wrong. But, as Eisenhower said (about war, but never mind), planning is essential but plans are worthless. Always be ready to revise or accept revision from life.
Getting to Landroid's question, I can't disagree about staring into a screen subtracting from things that develop us more. One thing that freaks me out about the behavior of young children is their submission to the TV screen hour after hour. They will watch the same damn video over and over! That's why I never wanted to have them in the house-- rent 'em and then get rid of 'em (videos and movies, not children). I'm also freaked about huge TV screens. Please don't make these images life-size, it's not right. Go to the movie theatre. But you see I'm OLD, so am spitting into the wind.
DWill



Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:31 pm
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DWill wrote:
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Eisenhower said (about war, but never mind), planning is essential but plans are worthless. Always be ready to revise or accept revision from life........One thing that freaks me out about the behavior of young children is their submission to the TV screen hour after hour. They will watch the same damn video over and over! That's why I never wanted to have them in the house-- rent 'em and then get rid of 'em (videos and movies, not children).


Will,
I almost used the Eisenhower quote as my BT signature and I'm in favor of a bit of planning too (as a certain topic I grumbling about at work will attest to).

As for repetitive video watching. This might make you feel better. There has been some research done on small children wanting to watch videos and hear books read repetitively. The long and short of it is that it seems to be related to mathematical concept development. I was interested because one of my kids would watch the same video 10 times in a row or ask to read the same story again and again. By the time she got to school, it was obvious that she was very good at math. In kindergarten she could add, subtract, multiply and was working on division. Could be a coincidence, but who knows maybe there is something to the research. I think the research explained that it has to do with prediction and patterns, but I could be remembering wrong.

Saffron


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Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:52 pm
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Man is an adaptable animal.

DWill, I disagree about one thing; I would like to have the biggest plasma TV screen on the market - unfortunately, I can't afford it (but they are getting much cheaper).

Twenty-five years ago, when my children were young, we didn't have the video problem - we had books. All over the house. And now my grown children are all readers. (But I do remember Pac-Man and Donkey Kong).

Ralph



Thu May 01, 2008 3:19 am
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Saffron wrote:
As for repetitive video watching. This might make you feel better. There has been some research done on small children wanting to watch videos and hear books read repetitively.
Saffron


Ah, confusing the issue with facts. Repetitive hearing of books I'd put in a different category, just because I want to.

Ralph, be careful with those theatre TV screens. There could be some hazard in them that's not been discovered. And I always think of the scene from the movie "Fahrenheit 451" where Julie Christie is "interacting" with the people on her wall-screen.
DWill



Thu May 01, 2008 9:40 am
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On the plus side: I've heard that the materials they use to make modern TV sets can be entirely recycled!

(I don't know whether this varies with size...)


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