“Distractability might be regarded as the mental equivalent of obesity” I recently read in an article entitled ‘Attention Please’. The same article also presented the idea that a consequence of the digital age’s cultural shift towards preferring immediately engaging mental stimuli over challenging mental stimulation that requires concentration, is that we are all becoming more alike.
The desire to feel connected to one another by sharing our experiences and showing mutual favour, has apparently bred a culture of likemindedness. Now I’m fairly sure that the afore mentioned article was presenting this as a bad thing, but I’m not entirely convinced myself. Take, for example, the plight of the Born Free Foundation. The global conversation has allowed their work and causes to be shared in a way that was barely imaginable before – and it’s something I can certainly stand testament to.
I became a supporter of Born Free Foundation somewhere around ’95/96, when two rescued lions; Raffi and Anthea resided somewhere in Kent that I longed to visit (though never did) and some brand or other (possibly Andrex?) were offering the chance to adopt a Born Free-rescued tiger called Roque if you collected enough coupons from the back of the packs and sent them away with a small, pre-specified donation. I remember my mum sellotaping pound coins onto cardboard and us walking to the postbox together at the top of the road (PayPal was a world away) to send it off.
I eventually took my adoption certificate proudly into school for Show and Tell. While the other kids displayed a sense of wonder at the concept of my ‘adopting’ a real life tiger (I’m pretty sure I did nothing to deter their misconception that l now had a tiger living at my house), I did feel a sense of excitement in passing on the knowledge of why tigers need ‘big gardens’ and that cages aren’t very nice. And in many ways, I’m still that kid that likes to share information that I care about… and embellish life with the odd “yes, I now own a tiger – do you want to be my friend?” story; except now instead of causes being spread through packs of toilet roll and carpet-time Show and Tell, we have the Internet and the age of likemindedness.
I’m pretty sure back then I’d have been hard pushed to find anyone around me who knew what Born Free Foundation was (aside from my enlightened class, 1R, at Norwich Road First School – bar the kids that weren’t in that day and the ones that weren’t listening anyway), yet now I find kindred spirits practically on my doorstep.
This past weekend I offered my services as a volunteer at St Albans Film Festival for the third consecutive year. I joined the festival in its debut year as a blogger, and have returned every year since. This year I watched in awe as two of the shortlisted finalist films featured Virginia McKenna and the efforts of Born Free! A music video (more on that another time) and – to my surprise and happiness! – Elefilm: a finalist (and eventual overall winner) of Student Film category!
For those who don’t know – I interviewed the producer of Elefilm (aka The Elephant in the Room), Amanda Gardner a few months back, after seeing the YouTube film on Facebook, contacting its makers on Twitter, interviewing them via email and publishing the piece on this blog, and then having it shared on my former university’s online magazine – the same university that the film makers attended! That Digital Age we were discussing… Anyway, how wonderful that not only were two Born Free-related films screened, but one won! And the film makers were right under my nose! So soon after meeting so many other like-minded activists recently, too! True coincidence, or serendipity manufactured through the connected world? Either way, this likemindedness bred through Internet sharing can’t be all that bad. And if you’ve made it this far, well done – your distractibility level is not the equivalent of obesity. Follow me here: @k1snowdon to share likeminded ideas. Did I mention I have a tiger?