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World of Distraction
by Michael Giardina

I destroyed an entire ant colony yesterday with a spray bottle and a ball-peen hammer. I poured water into the hole to make them surface, sprayed them to stun and confuse, and then smashed them with the hammer. The process took several hours.

It was during this intensely focused and meditative activity that I realized just how much our society is being torn down by distraction. Everybody wants instant gratification and few are willing to focus their determination on a single project or goal. Every minute of the day, there is something new to distract us: musical instruments, instant messenger, television, radio, shopping, billboards, the Internet, games, cartoons, newspapers and concerts among others.

Distraction is the reason our culture has replaced Beethoven with 50 Cent and Mozart with R. Kelly. Mozart and Beethoven had pianos and not much else. Without distraction, they focused their efforts on mastering their passions -- becoming the best there was.

I am sure 50 Cent, on the other hand, writes most of his songs while watching Pimp My Ride on MTV and laughing at Internet flash animations of stick figures pouring 40s out on the sidewalk for their "homiez." Similarly, I bet R. Kelly writes most of his love songs while doing "research" in teen girl chat rooms on AOL.

Just imagine if people decided to block out all of these distractions and focus in on serious, time-consuming projects. Spread your message with dedication.

For example, let's say you are against Internet pornography. Don't throw your cash into fancy billboards and extravagant advertisements that will attract the five-minute attention span of America's youth. Fight for your beliefs and start doing the job yourself. That's right, I want you to single-handedly get obscenity off the Internet. If that means downloading every lewd picture there is, manually adding clothes in Photoshop, and spreading it to the world, so be it.

It's sad when Americans abandon their projects and passions and instead choose to watch six straight episodes of "Survivor," followed by a Marky Mark marathon. Let's hope the next Hemingway doesn't get distracted by the newest "Fear Factor" while writing the next great American novel.

If we don't fight distraction, our culture is going to grow apathetic. There will be no spiritual leaders, philosophical thinkers, or heroes of social change. Without change, the people that take charge of the world will be the same people in charge of reality television. Spare us.

By perfecting your talent and utilizing it to inspire progress, you can help change society. Imagine a world not driven by commercialistic manipulation by huge companies that flash shiny objects at the nation's insecurity and fear.

If you want to be a drummer, imagine dedicating yourself to it in hopes of inspiring your audiences. If that requires running drunk and naked through the forest and beating on bongos until the wolves fear your testosterone-laced beats, all the better. Expanding your mind will expand society's mind.

There's not much use in trying to be the next G-Unit all star. Rapping about murder, rape, and alcohol to sell records on shock value is about as exciting and admirable as destroying ant colonies with a hammer and spray bottle.

So, society has an inclination to fade away from the serious. Big deal. There will always be those Americans who would rather watch Jerry Springer than feed their children, and there may be no hope for them. Nonetheless, there are plenty of frustrated people in the world right now. With the war and controversial politics flooding the news these days, change is inevitably on the horizon.

It's going to be hard, so let's start small. Turn the television off, log out of your LiveJournal account, and try writing some abstract poetry with alphabet soup. Or, I guess you could always try that putting-clothes-on-pornography thing. You might get something out of it.