Quadrant Four Dream
I had a very strange dream last night. A very hazy smoke like creature appeared in my dream. I was startled. The strange creature started talking to me. I remember only a part of the conversation. I reproduce some of the content.
DS: Who are you ?
Q4: I am Quadrant IV. Legendary Stephen Covey created and cornered me. I am the quadrant — Not important and not urgent. Quadrant for time wasters. Some people call me as distraction. Disruption, diversion, disturbance are my other synonyms.
DS: How do you manifest ?
Q4: I am omnipresent. I am present where focus and concentration are present. Focus and concentration are my arch rivals. I have energy. I can spread everywhere. I come in different forms. Hardware, software and from nowhere. Like the genie of Aladdin lamp, I can spring up any time. Aladdin lamp requires a trigger. I do not not need one. I can be external or internal. I can be very active, very habitual or surprising or annoying or pleasurable. I can also be very rebellious. I am now an universal competency. I am a mystery very hard to define.
DS: Can you give me a few examples ?
Q4: Have you seen the famous musical, My Fair Lady ? I am all over the opening scene of the marketplace. You do not know where to look at. You get distracted every second. Many rishis and sages were distracted by the celestial dancers time and again as per our epics. Have you heard of Sage Viswamitra ? I disrupted his penance in the form of Menaka and result was Shakuntala. I am sure you are aware of the rest of the story. Even Lord Shiva was distracted by the famous Manmatha.
I make my presence through many forms. I appear in the form of handphones while driving. Most of the driving accidents are caused by me. Safe and wildly unsafe. I appear in the form of games and sports — IPL matches, NFL and other matches while students are preparing for exams. I appear in the form of TV shows. I appear in the form of insipid and futile conversations. I appear in the form of news papers, tabloids and fashion magazines with bold photographs. Pickpockets and robbers use me effectively in pursuit of their objective. I am also helpful in redirecting your attention in the form of hatsapp conversations during boring presentations and talks. Young mothers use me to feed their children.
DS: Do you have a form ?
Q4: They say, I come in two forms. Positive distraction and negative distraction. A break for hardworking folks. A convenient tool for spending time for senior citizens. A holiday after a busy work season. Negative distraction for school going children in the form of devices and virtual games. I usually occupy space vacated by the routine activities. I occupy space vacated by women and men who have given up manual work. Washing dishes, clothes and doing household chores are all being outsourced to machines. I am the mental equivalent of obesity. Skills like texting, googling and browsing have become competencies now. Very intuitive.
DS: I have heard the word -Digital distraction. Are you the same ?
Q4: Yes, Digital distraction is my another modern form. Some say, it is a waste of time, attention, and energy on relatively unimportant information and interactions. Some say, it is staying busy and producing little of value. I love millennials. For millennials, happening on devices is much more fascinating than human beings. Natural world is tasteless. They are happy with the virtual world as it offers self- enclosed fantasy world. They need not remember to build things, fix things, play outdoor games. I have helped them in reducing the physical friends by half. I am instrumental in reducing their access to look and feel of the physical world. They say, I am creating a cultural crisis. I am decelerating the span of attention. I do not care as long as I have the power to influence the millennials. They are my future.
DS: What would be the recommended strategy to deal with you ?
Q4: First of all, you must be aware of my presence. Do not run away from me. If you go against me, I shall rebound and create more distraction. Make efforts to convert negative distractions to positive. Have a constant conversation with me. Change your perspective. You will be happy and be peace with yourself. Try to learn new skills which are relevant to the current — pottery, cooking, small repair work (plumbing, electrical repairs, fixing of small mechanical parts) in the house. etc. Do as many things as possible with hands. You need to do things to gather attention to a point of focus. Reinvent yourself with your generic smartness. Deepen your interest in painting, music, sculpture etc. Look for mentors who could help you pursue these skills. Self -regulation is another strategy I can think of.
DS: Where I can learn more about you ?
Q4: There is a lot of research around me these days. Google will help you.
I was at a loss after the above conversation. I thought the best way is to share the story in the form of a blog with friends in the morning. Having said, I am going back to sleep expecting another interesting dream !
As I got up in the morning, I started looking around for resources on current thinking on distraction. I am sure you will love to read them. This is not definitely a quadrant four activity.
All the best !
- The World Beyond Your Head: Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction” Mathew Crawford