Sydney AveyDynamic Women — Changing Times
Note to Self About Distractions
We live in an age of distractions. Like germs in the air we breathe, we can tolerate few disturbances with no ill effect. But the constant battle for our attention can trigger an I-just-don’t-care-anymore numbness that leads to anxiety, apathy, and burnout.
Viral distractions that dehumanize
The marketplace used to thrive on vibrant human social interaction. Think happy places. Consider a farmer’s market, bazaar, or flea market, places where you can enjoy the sight of the sun glancing off a cobalt blue antique glass, or the taste of a summer’s first peach, or the sound of a young girl’s joyous giggle as she sinks her teeth into a cupcake and gets frosting all over her nose. But ever since Ford Motor Company’s John Borgas coined the term “consumerism,” we have been labeled “consumers” and consigned to marketing hell.
Billboards block our view of the landscape. Rapidfire chatter steadily updates us on new ailments and their miracle antidotes. Pitches and promises ping us on our phones and pop up on our screens.
What made the designers of our economy think we could tolerate high levels of constant sell?
The consumer label
Like all labels, the consumer label emphasizes one aspect of a person in a way that devalues all the others. By accepting that label, I open myself to a host of ills. Anxiety: I can never have/do/be enough. Exhaustion: Useless information piles up in my brain and disturbs my sleep. Depression: What should bring joy gets buried under the weight of sadness.
Marketers offer consumers help to reduce distractions. You can purchase apps that snooze beeping notifications and packages that allow ad-free content. Well and good, but if you are still agitated by all the demands for your attention, why not reject the consumer label altogether?
I can only speak for myself about what has worked well for me. I choose not to play the game.
- I don’t cut coupons, collect Rewards cards, or allow specials or sales to dictate when I shop or what I buy. If I overpay for something, it balances out by all the stuff I don’t buy.
- Reducing my inventory of physical stuff and turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to media-driven, anxiety-producing prodding has created space in my head and my day for healthier activities, like praying, listening, helping, reading for insight and pleasure, walking, and relaxing with friends.
Spending time in the marketplace is necessary and can be enjoyable. But spending too much time in commercial dealings because technology allows it is perilous. Becoming immune to ceaseless sales pitches is good for us. If we allow consumerism too much sway, the toxins prevent us from to caring for ourselves and our friends and neighbors. No time. No energy.
Reject the label, consumer. Pay more attention to what you love. If you don’t know what that is, Google won’t help you. What makes your heart sing? Go there.
© Sydney Avey