You Can Control Your Data, Or Be Controlled By It

Ernie Schenck’s column in the current print edition of Communication Arts is called “Creativity Interruptus.” In the piece Schenck details the difficulty he has concentrating in a world full of digital distractions.
Schenck says, “It’s mind-popping, all the stuff that’s just waiting inside that T1 line, just chomping at the bit, aching to get inside that head of yours and clutter it up with all kinds of cyber flotsam and jetsam.”
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to step back from the machine and what a pleasure it was.
I love to write and think and share, but I’m concerned that the quality of my writing, thinking and sharing is diminished by the volume and immediacy of my output.
The answer seems simple enough. Turn the digital devices off and go about one’s day in s state of blissful detachment. Yet, if it’s so simple why don’t I do it. Why don’t you? Perhaps we’re afraid of becoming increasingly isolated and irrelevant in a world that is clearly “On.”
Like any practice that can become habitual, balance is the desired state. But balance is hard to find in digital streams. The natural state is to bounce from one pool to the next in a perpetual state of motion. “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” But what’s wrong with moss? Is moss not essential to the overall health of the ecosystem?
Digital distractions are not going to vanish. So what’s the answer? Everyone needs to find their own balance. For some, it might mean stepping away for days at a time. For others, a daily containment policy might work best. For instance, try opening and processing email once or twice a day and keep Facebook and Twitter closed when not in use.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.