FOCUS IS OVERRATED

One year ago one big Indonesian publication rejected my piece, saying that there was no focus in it.

Made me think, who DOES have focus these days?

I believe that one of the reasons why Facebook and Twitter are such in demand, is because the users are not required to have focus. Everybody can just litter their scrambled thoughts out there and (funnily enough) get people to respond to them.

Let’s trace back this phenomenon by answering this question. When was the last time you write personal emails to people that you actually like? For me, personal emails are really my last resource. They are just too troublesome, because then I have to focus.

The first thing that I asked my interior designer when I signed him up was “Do you have a Facebook account?”.

And proven that it made my life much easier. He could go pick wallpapers, took pictures of them then posted them on Facebook and he’d get my response within seconds. I wouldn’t have to write long sentences, I just clicked the “thumb icon” and I’d be done.

What was our life like before? It was much more focused I suppose.

Twenty five years ago, in times like this, with Christmas and New Year approaching, I had to buy greetings cards, stamps, made the effort of writing the greetings (differently for each card, incase they’d compare) then queued at the post office to get them sent. Of course, I would receive personalized individual greeting cards as well. At that time the “to” and “response” were personalized. At that time, everything was focused.

Then the Internet came, the physical cards became e-cards. I remember how it was so cool to send e-cards. I’d be spending hours just to go through the categories (funny, birthdays, I’m sorry, I love you, New Year etc), and pick the right (and free) one. Then I’d send a mass email (usually I’d use bcc), but I would still get personal replies. During this time, the “to” became mass, there was no focus, but at least the reply was personal.

Let’s get back to today’s world. I look at my Facebook today and I see pictures (not even the cool moving ones like the e-cards) with all kinds of greetings on them. Sometimes, some of them even tag me (nothing gets more annoying than that). Because then everybody comments on them, and every other second you’ll get notification about god-knows-who making comments as well (yea… yea… you can un-tag yourself and so on and so fort, but that’s not the point). In today’s world, not only the “to” is mass, but also the response. It’s a one big mess, no focus.

What about our daily life? Do we still have focus?

Even now as I’m writing my thoughts, I’m playing my CastleVille & Sims Social, checking comments from friends on my latest status and prepping my daughter for school. There’s no focus.

A year ago, I read an article about a conference that allowed the audience to tweet their thoughts about the speech as the speaker was speaking. The tweets were even put up on a different screen for the audience and the speaker to see. It was a “live” feedback. Meaning, simultaneously, the audience listened to the speech, read the tweet screen, had responses in their head and tweeted those responses back. As for the speaker, not only he needed to deliver the speech, but also he had to respond to the tweets. He might even have to tweak his talk as he moved on. It was a mess, there was no focus. Yet it worked, it was a success.

Imagine if this conference was held 10 years ago, where everything was very “one way” and in “re-play mode”. Where everybody sat and listened and took notes and when Q&A session came the audience would normally start their question with “This thing that you just talked about…”. Everything was in past tense; it was not “live”.

Is that why we’re so unfocused? Is it because we want everything to be “live”? Or is it simply because we don’t have the time? Or is it because of the “instant gratification” (don’t even get me started on this one) that people have been fussing about these days? Or is it actually how our brain works? I don’t know, I don’t have a degree in neurology.

So who DOES have focus? Though it’s kind of an irony thinking that I actually just spent the last hour trying to focus on writing a write up about how messy and unfocused the world is today. Please do not miss the magic word, “trying”.

Have a great new year everyone (again, there’s no focus on the “to”…. but I do mean what I said).

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One thought on “FOCUS IS OVERRATED

  1. sherly says:

    I actually question whether listening and tweeting works.. I have always have problems with listening to the speaker and reading the slides at the same time. And I know it’s a common problem, one either listens or reads, but hardly does both at the same time. So when it comes to a presentation, I actually prefer to have the Q&A happened at the end. This allows the speaker to finish what he wanted to say, and some questions are best left to the end.

    Maybe it’s me, but I am probably the opposite of you.. multitasking is so overrated.

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