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Did The Romans Have ADD?

Two nights ago as my wife and I were reading to each other, I thought I had ADD because I couldn't focus.  It lead me to think that today's society in general has ADD.  Let me explain what I mean:

We as a society have become distracted to the brink.   It seems that everywhere you look, you're  distracted.  Now instead of writing an actual letter - you have email.  Now instead of cooking food in an oven -you have a microwave.  We are always bombarded by 24 hour news casts,  loud bombastic music,  Sponge Bob, MTV, pulp novels, I pads, Kindles, Facebook, Twitter, I phones, and Blackberrys.  Everywhere you look - someone is distracted and usually using some type of gadget. 

I have no problem with technological improvements.  They are an important part of societal progress. However, when a society loses its ability for sustained thinking, there is a problem.  A problem because concentration and sustained thinking are required for a good and just society.  The society that loses the ability to think is the society that will eventually crumble.  It is said that one of the tell tale signs of ancient Rome's collapse was that more people were interested in the gruesome gladiator events than in the more important political, and moral happenings of Rome.  Once this happened, corruption was able to take form, and soon after that the great society collapsed.

Are we heading down the same path as a society? Is being engrossed in the lives of the Desperate Housewives of Anytown USA or being addicted to video games while Halo-ing yourself into mind-numbed oblivion any different than watching wild beasts in a Colosseum? Its just two thousand years that separates the different pass-times.  The result is the same: a diminished empathy for the truly important.

One of the great fruits of reading out loud with my wife is that it has given us a profound appreciation for the written word.  It is an awesome thing to hear the nuances of our language, the subtleties of the inflections, and the rhythms of the words. Instead of just watching a movie,  we are developing relationships with the characters of a story. Most importantly we are engaging our minds through thoughtful and sustained thinking while nourishing our relationship in the process.

Maybe it isn't that my wife and I have ADD.  Maybe we should just pick something more enthralling than Henry James' Portrait of a Lady.  Nothing against Mr James, but Ive had enough of turn of the century British banter to last me a lifetime.

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