Distractions evolve as technology improves

Challenges of Living to Age 100


How are you distracted? Every minute, day and change of seasons brings distractions. As we live longer, we are challenged by a variety of new distractions.

In our youth, distractions involved play time, sports, hobbies, classroom activities and not paying attention. Our teachers may have written: “John tends to daydream; he is easily distracted.”

As a child in church in the 1940s, I can remember not listening to the pastor’s message. The lady in the seat in front of me was wearing a fox tail fur. It was fun to play with the dead critters hanging around her neck. Easter Sunday was a big show. Easter bonnets were a distraction and diversion from the message of the “risen Lord.”

As a teenager, we lost track of important things and focused on sports, dates, parties and attraction to the opposite sex. Parents and teachers worked hard to keep us on task — to be focused. Then it was off to college, work, military and marriage. Each path involved distractions along the way. Time management became critical as we juggled multiple tasks, challenges and responsibilities.

As we traveled through life, we were distracted by the little box with the black and white picture. Three channels provided distractions to staying on task doing homework. Color television gave way to the high definition and flat screen with hundreds of channels every minute of the day. The telephone was a challenge particularly if the family had a party line or a limited calls per month plan.

Fifty years ago, advertising research showed consumers received as many as 1,500 messages from various sources in a day. Billboards, signage, commercials on radio and television, flyers, brochures and balloons carried messages that encourage the purchase of products and services.

Today, our computer and iPhone screens are loaded with internet messages — advertising distractions. Television screens often are surrounded by multiple challenging distractions.

Today, everyone is connected by mobile telephones with texting, streaming, Bluetooth access in our vehicles and many applications designed to communicate rather than distract.

Have you ever noticed young couples on a date having dinner at a restaurant working on their iPhones instead of having a pleasant romantic conversation?

Yes, seniors are doing the same. Distractions stifle relationships. We are connected more than ever before, but more distracted than ever before. Stay focused, not distracted! 

Ed Baranowski is president of Topics Unlimited, a Melbourne-based education, seminar and consulting company. He can be contacted at topicsed@aol.com.