Obsessed with distractions

Oct 01, 2011, 08:21 IST | Rohan Joshi

Last week, scientists at CERN achieved something that was once thought impossible. They managed to get some elementary particles to travel faster than the speed of light

Last week, scientists at CERN achieved something that was once thought impossible. They managed to get some elementary particles to travel faster than the speed of light.

This is important for a bunch of reasons. For starters, it shakes every belief we have ever held true about science, beliefs like 'Nothing can go faster than the speed of light', or 'Time travel is impossible', or 'Nothing in this world tastes better than Mosambi juice.' This discovery could change your life. In fact, it already has.

For example, you no longer need to feel bad about the fact that you failed every single physics exam you ever gave, because as it turns out, the subject was all wrong anyway.

You'd think the fact that a bunch of scientists essentially broke science would be earth-shattering news. You'd think that the entire world would be in a tizzy about it, asking the important questions, like "What on earth is a 'tizzy'?"

And yet, on the day this news broke, it was dwarfed, coverage-wise, by another piece of news deemed more important. Because on the same day that CERN questioned the fundamental laws of the universe, Mark Zuckerberg decided to redesign Facebook.

Now, some of you are sitting there, reading this and thinking 'Well duh, everyone knows Facebook is more important than the universe.'

To you I say, it's good to know fourteen year-olds still read the newspaper. To everybody else I say, stop. Consider this for a second.

If the folks at CERN are right, this is the equivalent of standing up in ancient Greece and suggesting that the world is round, not flat. Men have died for ideas less controversial, less dangerous, and less revolutionary. But in the year 2011, we greeted the news with a big fat yawn.

It was the scientific equivalent of turning a blind-eye to a son who just discovered the cure to cancer by saying, "That's sweet dear, but Mark's come up with a way for me to stream Chammak Challo on Facebook for free, so ssshhh."

And that, really, is the problem. We're more obsessed with distraction than discovery, and there are few things in this world more distracting than the big white f against the big blue background. Am I suggesting that Facebook is the devil? No. Not in the least.

What I'm suggesting is that if the devil did exist, he'd be on Facebook too busy poking God, to actually do any real devil-ing. Because Facebook is where productivity goes to retire, play bingo, live out its remaining years, and die. I am yet to meet anybody being productive on Facebook.

The only people for whom it's productive is Mark Zuckerberg and those people who made Farmville. And it's taking over our lives in the most annoying ways possible.

Last week, I missed a party because somebody only sent the invites out on Facebook, and I didn't (shock, horror) check Facebook that day. I'm sorry, I was too busy doing that other thing, what's it called? Oh yeah, having a life.

People plan parties on Facebook, go to parties planned on Facebook, spend all their time at the party updating their status on Facebook, go home and upload pictures from the party on Facebook, and then realise they don't remember any of what happened in those pictures because they were too busy checking out Facebook.

It's made us obsessed with recording every little mundane detail about our life, and worse, made it imperitive to know about every mundane detail in everyone else's life. The other day a friend's status said "Eating".
Somebody had 'Liked' it. Like it was an achievement of some sort.
My point is this. Turn that damn screen off. Just once, go out, hang out, do stuff without needing to put it on the internet. You'd be surprised, your brain works just as well as a repository of that sort of information. Live a little. Discover.

There's a bunch of people out there destroying scientific conventions. Ten bucks says they don't spend all their time on Facebook. Go out, live a little, discover, question. You may break the speed of light. Or discover something that tastes better than Mosambi Juice. If you do, be sure to tell me on Facebook.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo

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