Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic
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N.A.D.D., and/or Attention Surfeit Condition.

On "Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder".

That article made me question the aptness of "attention *deficiency* disorder".

I've known for some time that what I do not have is a shortness of attention. If anything, I have too much attention. I must pay attention to anything that grabs my attention, and I have a lot of attention to grab. Unless something is so engaging that it captures all of my attention at once, I cannot stay solely focused on it and only it. To cope, I have multiple projects going on at once, and practice polyamory. (When I turn all of my attention on one relationship, the intensity of my attention leads observers to start flinging around words like "obsession" and "stalking". Thus, very safe polyamory.)

I suspect that if I did not give myself what would amount to an information overload to a "normal" person, I would be distinctly and clinically obsessive rather than mildly so. I take input from one thing, start it processing, and turn to the next. This way, I have three to ten things processing at any given time. At work, I'm on the phone, writing, and chatting with my neighbor, as well as being excessively bored and watching the clock obsessively. It's generally all that a "normal" person can do, to keep up with one, or maybe two things at a time. We stop tracking on stuff not because we don't have the attention for it, but because it's *boring*, and we don't want to *waste* our attention on it.

There is so much information out there that our vast attention capability is still a limited resource. So we stretch our attention to the breaking point, and complain we don't have enough of it. Our minds can't process fast enough to keep up with all the input we're paying attention to, so we overclock our brains to keep up with it all. At one point I complained to my roommate that he was rushing ahead so fast that my brain couldn't keep up with him. He was confused, so I explained all the things my brain was trying to process, which was evidently five times more things than what he was trying to do. I think I scared him.

I can still monofocus. I can still tune out the world. I can still go into a trance state and come out of it with interesting things accomplished, and feel like I've just taken a nap. But the things that can take me there are rarer. With that monofocus comes a truly astonishing memory. When I am completely present, that is, monofocused on the here-and-now, I remember things with incredible detail, to the point where even my parents were surprised at what I remembered. When my attention splits, though, only the most interesting things get a chance to be written to permanent memory; the rest remains in the RAM and eventually ceases to be without ever having gotten saved.

I got a chance to discover my capacity to monofocus as well as multifocus largely because I was raised in an environment nearly utterly without television. Therefore, I can switch back and forth almost at will...
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