Parker: Driven to distraction
OXFORD, Md. – Reflexively, I type "Dru" and The Drudge Report pops up. I hate myself for going there but as a columnist ever in search of the zeitgeist's ultimate wave, I am behooved.
Breezing past the latest tricklings about The Hill & Trumpie Show — I'm not proud of this — I click on "Weiner still at it?"
Hey, it's August. It's what we do.
Apparently, Carlos Danger, aka Anthony Weiner, is still sexting, if you believe his former correspondent Sydney Leathers, who claims that another woman to whom Weiner allegedly recently has sent photos of his whatevers contacted her for advice.
Just beneath this story is a photo of Bill Clinton looking a bit frail alongside the alluring headline: "He revealed this disease." This leads me to 60 celebrities, who are just like the rest of us when it comes to ailments. First up: Miley Cyrus has a higher-than-usual resting heart rate. Riveting.
Off I go to discover the best exterior house colors. Meanwhile, the shopping depot "One Kings Lane" taunts me from the right-hand margin with images I've perused in recent weeks. Of course I clicked.
Love the settee, but Christie Brinkley is tired of John Mellencamp's "redneck ways." Who knew they were dating? I glance away to see if "Morning Joe" is saying anything interesting and note that half the (male) Washington Post columnists are on. What's up with that?
This reminds me to read the Post. OMG, Simone Biles. The Biles! Then I read an awful story about two D.C. fathers murdered by their sons on the same day, which probably should have been the lede. One of them, Harrison Spencer, was a globetrotting physician who took medical healing to the world's poorest places. His son, 32, claimed voices told him to kill his father so he stabbed him 15 times.
Quote du jour comes from Mr. Joe of Toledo in comments: "Why don't the voices ever say, "Go help your father take out the trash and mow the lawn?"
The world is too much with me. Who said that? Google Chrome says it's "us" not "me." And it was William Wordsworth. Of Course.
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; —
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"
I probably ought to tweet something: Oh, to be Dave Barry in Rio!
"Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."
You have to read it a few times to figure out that he's lamenting man's alienation from Nature and our spirit selves as we pursue materialism. Don't hold me to this, but I think he's predicting Donald Trump — way back in the early 1800s. (You didn't think I could write an entire column without mentioning him, did you?)
My point, which I hope is obvious by now, is that such streams of consciousness describe the beginnings of too many of my mornings, and probably many of yours, too. Need I say this is insanity? It's little wonder that the human attention span is minimized at the bottom right of your screen. Or that today's children, who have known no other way of being, are so jacked up, agitated and distracted that they need amphetamines to calm them down. (Whatever happened to running laps?)
Much has been written about the effects of the internet on our minds and culture, including Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains." Not only are we forging new neural pathways in the brain but we're losing the capacity to absorb and retain complex information.
Computers and the internet may make us smarter in some ways, as neuroscience finds, but baby boomers who grew up with three channels and rabbit ears are the last generation to have been formed primarily by books requiring lengthy, focused attention, as well as the experiential learning that comes from engaging one's own imagination rather than navigating someone else's often-bizarre, interactive digital fictions.
What this technologically advanced, mind-bending experiment upon the human psyche ultimately brings us, no one knows. But my fear is that we've already become Pagans swaddled in creeds outworn, credulous if less forlorn, as Hillary rises from the sea and old Trump blows his wreathed horn.
Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post.