Once, while the guys were watching a James Bond movie in the other room, the out-of-context gunshots and explosions were rubbing me the wrong way, and I got to thinking about how people say “society encourages us all to be ADHD.”
Before I understood the medical side of ADHD, I agreed with those who say we are all more distracted, hyperactive, and impulsive, because of all the screens in our faces. In the time that I have been on the planet, the Internet went from a sci-fi idea to a thing you could surf to a basic need like beds and sheets and water and cars (all of which you can now buy on the Internet, of course). There were kids, in my childhood, who would watch TV for hours each day, but they were neither normal nor the norm. Today, nearly a third of American children live in a household where the television is on all, or most of, the time.
Ours isn’t, but we may, at any given time, have up to seven screens on in the living room between all of our laptops and cell phones. We laugh over the fact that going to movies is the only time our family of three ever has a one-screen experience anymore.
But some things are just crazy-making. To me the world itself seems to have gone completely ADHD whenever:
- Google Ads suggest I buy things I just bought
- The phone rings in the middle of a text conversation
- I get a text while I’m in the middle of writing another text
- I go to Facebook to check one thing and get lost there for hours
Still, we don’t see real life reflected back in art and the media. On TV shows, people walk around their houses without the constant soundtrack or chatter, having dialogue where one person finishes a sentence before another starts. Where they do one thing at a time, deliberately, with a quality of presence that is impossible to achieve in real life when there’s something interesting on TV, a ping sounds on the phone, or someone starts laughing at a meme thread they just have to share.
And there’s James Bond, sauntering through explosions. Really? Talk about hyperfocus! Do you ever see him frazzled? I’d like to know how he would handle frazzled, the way it happens in my crazy world, the real crazy world where people don’t chase each other through the streets with guns but do get hysterical because someone lost their keys or forgot their bag or couldn’t get started or missed a detail or a blew a deadline or just didn’t think to fully communicate.
We are surrounded by chatter and challenge. The guns fire and men utter threats and die and I put my hands over my ears and think: It's up to us as women and mothers, as adults, and as human beings, to filter out all the chattering voices, to create calm amid the chaos. Creating spaces, and times where our families can be peaceful and centered and thoughtful takes effort. Turning off the screens, holding the center, insisting on eye contact, that seems like hard work these days. But with or without ADHD, we need to nurture our values, tend to our relationships, and find life beyond the adrenaline rush.