Aidan's Infinite Play 18 You Are What You Attend To

Aidan's Infinite Play 18 You Are What You Attend To
Photo by Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

Hello players!

You are what you attend to.

Information is like food. You will feel awful if you attend to garbage information like Tik Tok and popular news. But if you attend to quality information like old books, great podcasters, and anything written by Brandon Sanderson (I definitely don't have a fan crush), you might ascend to godhood or godesshood (looking out for my female audience).

That's pretty obvious.

But here's the real kicker: you will perceive the same objects of attention in an environment different to someone else. In other words, you can attend to the same things but perceive them differently because of your unique background, beliefs, education, family, etc.

A couple of days ago, this fact hit me harder than ever. I was sitting between rounds at a speech tournament with one of my speech team members, talking about her ADHD. Up to then, I had thought of ADHD as a disorder given to people with a much more pervasive affliction: Attentional Tik Tok Disease. Lack of an ability to focus that afflicts everyone with a habit of doom scrolling Tik Tok.

But as the team member kept talking, I realized she really did have a severe case of ADHD. She found it very difficult to control her attention. It was like she was in the driver's seat of a car but had to steer with her feet.

Anything could distract her.

If her consciousness wasn't full of something, the slightest novel piece of information could veer her off the road. To do homework, she had to purposefully fill her consciousness with as much information as possible so no new information couldn't veer her off course. Sitting down to do homework, she would pop in headphones, a podcast, and draw with her left hand, all while completing Calculus problems.

Then I asked her, "how are you attending so well to this conversation with your ADHD?" I found out she wasn't just attending to the conversation. While talking to me, she was testing the texture of her sock against her legs, counting the number of lights on the ceiling, checking where the exits were, making sure the next speaker hadn't come into the room, looking at the color of the bricks on the side wall, and playing with her water bottle.

All at the same time.

At that moment, I realized that I had taken my ability to control my attention for granted. About two years ago, I shifted my information diet from one predominantly of YouTube and video games to one filled with podcasts, books, academic articles, and more. I fell back in love with learning.

But this is a privilege. Unfortunately, not everyone has as easy a time attending to the things they know they should.

So what's your excuse?

Here's what I would like to share this week.

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