February 3, 2011 Volume CXXIX Issue 2

Distracted much? Speaker offers
sage words in exhortation

Staff Writer

Dr. Nathan Hatch of Wake Forest University visited Georgetown and delivered an exhortation of sorts at Founders Day Convocation. He asked us to engage the life of the scholar by putting aside our distractions each day to read well and to think deeply about the myriad ideas we are steeped in during that reading and, more generally, the ideas we encounter as students and scholars. In addition to having worthwhile things to say to the Georgetown College community, what Dr. Hatch said to us was interesting. For those two reasons, I am going to summarize Dr. Hatch’s main points critiquing our habits, then muster a short word on how to implement his advice. If you are easily distracted, skip to the italics below—it’s more interesting and will tell you what I think about your prospects, because I am the fountain of wisdom.

Dr. Hatch began his speech by identifying some of the benefits of modern communication technology, such as access to music, social network applications (the Facebook and the Twitter), news and even books. He followed with the uncontroversial claim that sometimes those things foster in us a lifestyle characterized by a constant “distracted anticipation” wherein we are always waiting for the next notification or tidbit of social excitement. Dr. Hatch reasonably and kindly encouraged us to take time to step away from those sources of distraction because he believes that doing so will enable us as thinkers to engage important and genuinely interesting concepts.

What Dr. Hatch said, as I attempted to summarize above, is in our best interest. Now we arrive at the moment where I get to say something important too: Recap is necessary for the benefit of individuals who missed out on Dr. Hatch’s wisdom because they were distracted during his speech by (ironically, but unsurprisingly) texting and talking, reading, picking their nose (yep, I saw it, but must admit it might not have been too distracting, because they didn’t have much of a payload) or sleeping. I harbor and indulge a sympathy for individuals contained in the first two categories, feel sympathy for those needing to finish a reading for class, entertain a mild amusement regarding the fourth category, and generally don’t consider the sleep-deprived to be objects of any judgment or emotion in this scenario.

Now, a note, and it is important, so if your attention span is that of a squirrel (then I just lost you) pay attention to this in the italics: (1) if you texted or talked or did anything during Dr. Hatch’s speech and thereby denied yourself the opportunity to even hear what he had to say about distractions, that is unfortunate and you denied yourself the portion of wisdom he imparted, and I exhort you now to consider what he had to say as I related it to you in summary; (2) if you found yourself distracted by habit, but not by any conscious movement of your will to pick up your phone or chat with a neighbor even after having heard Dr. Hatch’s thesis statement, then there is hope and you may reform yourself (I will mention this below); (3) lastly, if you were conscious of Dr. Hatch’s arguments about distraction and yet chose to disregard him at various and/or continuous points, you simply need to be more respectful.

This should be in the opinion section—editor says ‘yes’—so I get to offer you my unadulterated advice and perspective on how to improve your life: Set aside a time commitment that you will engage in every week, to do as Dr. Hatch suggests, to be away from your computer, to turn off your phone, and (gasp) to even set aside your mp3 player of choice. Be silent, be still and bask in silence. If you wish to read, do so, and while you may very well read for a class, avoid something which you must take notes on (this should not be part of your regular study schedule).

Most importantly, you must deny yourself the possibility of distraction. This can look like a workout schedule, and it is similar in form and function, doing things for the mind that a workout does for the body. It strengthens and refines, honing your intellect and fostering the beginnings of deliberate contemplation which can lead to wisdom. By engaging this silence, you separate yourself from the constant “societal immersion” you experience thanks to the technology we use and instead steep yourself in an experience that reasserts the “you.” As your thoughts settle, you develop ideas independent of the flow that whips ‘round you during all other waking moments.

The goal is to foster a conscious intentionality by disciplining yourself, so that you can move forward in our society with an understanding of yourself and the ideas you possess. This is to avoid finding yourself some years from now possessing only a vague notion of self amidst the well of external and temporary distractions, jaded by a continual overdose of saccharine titillation and unable to delineate between the threads of ideas you carefully examined and set aside as meaningful and those that are to be discarded because the former won’t exist. If you begin the process now of “unplugging” from the “unsettled waiting” (my term) of distraction in its many forms, you will be able to avoid the fate above which, ironically, I think we seek to escape or avoid by our social interactions. In conclusion, I echo Dr. Hatch, and ask you to make a conscious movement away from the subconscious habits of being that both are, and lead to, distraction.

If anyone took such an interest in what the author discussed above and would like to respond to it or have certain issues engaged further in later issues of the Georgetonian by The author, please direct those ideas/ questions/comments to Tucker Adams, Box #385, or tadams1@georgetowncollege.edu

Editor gives thanks


A short list of overlooked, GC-related things for which I am thankful:

1. The new toaster in the Caf. My blueberry bagels get toastier than ever, without the long wait.

2. The new shower head in the 1st floor bathroom in Flowers Hall. Not only does the shower head direct the water in one direction, rather than all over the shower, but it has not one, not two, but three separate water pressure settings.

3. The dryer that occasionally malfunctions and gives me 90 minutes of drying time for $1, instead of the usual 45 minutes. This makes the difference between unpleasantly damp towels and zippers that burn me when I pull my jeans out of the dryer.

4. Hearing Dr. Coke laughing from somewhere in the Rec while I am working out. I don’t think this needs any explanation.

5. Morning prayer in the LRC with Kyle Potter and company. His prayer voice is especially awesome.

6. Pat who works in Flowers Hall. Not only does she bring us Christmas cards and Halloween candy, but she always greets me by name in the morning when I am much too tired to be pleasant.

7. Soft cookies in the Caf. This semester, the cookies have been unusually and consistently soft and chewy. Whoever is baking the cookies, I appreciate you.

8. Georgetown residents who walk their dogs on campus. Apparently this morning I missed out on seeing a pair of pugs dressed in dog coats. You know it’s going to be a good day when it starts out with pugs in coats. Or maybe that’s just me.

9. The mysterious closet in The Georgetonian office. It may or may not lead to Narnia, if Narnia has a lot of yellowed issues of The Georgetonian, some trophies and a sex education book.

GC’s Tiger Bands
invite you to the Keep
Us Grrr…ing Dinner

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from any Band Scholar or by emailing plarue@georgetowncollege.edu

Date: Feb. 4

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Caf, Cralle Student Center

Dinner will include special audio and video retrospectives of Tiger Bands, remarks by special guests, and a performance of Grr… classics.

The dinner is part of the Tiger Band Challenge to raise $20,000 in eight weeks.


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