Is one of Our Father’s web designers in charge of the British Daily Mail’s internet site? It is by far the best personification of our mission to distract, to confuse and to overwhelm.
It is impossible, even for your patient who is unfortunately incredibly focused as far as humans go, to visit one of its pages without abandoning the original article she clicked on to peruse the right hand side of all its pages filled with gossip on A to Z list celebrities she cares nothing about. Sometimes she gets through half the article before being sidetracked by the divorce proceedings of some British soccer star or the see-thru skirt of Kim Kardashian, but usually it only takes a couple of graphs.
If I were a betting devil, I’d guess most people abandon the original article after a sentence or two in. The poor saps who wrote the article probably think they have a much greater impact on public policy than they do. In reality, they are mere delivery devices for entertainment news. Shh. Nobody tell journalism students that. We’d like more suckers to get lured into a profession with few jobs and no ability to change the world. Disaffected cynics are such good worker bees for Our Father.
But I digress. The best thing about the site is that it is being copycatted all over the place by different media outlets, so much so that everyone who visits major news sites has about zero chance of leaving well informed about the issue he or she intended to find out about and almost no chance of learning anything because there is so much information it’s almost impossible to pick and choose what to read and the brain is overwhelmed. Most likely they will forget why they visited at all! And then they are angry because they wasted time on junk.
And we haven’t even gotten to Twitter. You mentioned that your patient feels obligated to keep it open all the time so that she does not miss out on breaking news and can immediately correspond to those who raise her ire with a pithy repartee. The fact that writing in 140 characters or less does not come naturally to her means she spends an inordinate amount of time crafting allegedly offhand remarks. The best thing about it is that she is kept from researching things she prioritized for the day in order to keep up with what everyone else is writing about. Talk about undermining her work and facilitating groupthink! And then when she spends an hour distracted by reading this and that article and laboring over tweet after tweet to include the proper hash tags, she ends up feeling demoralized by the fact that so few people are following her compared to other people.
What I love most about her daily meanderings from work, which probably eat up more than an hour of her time each day, is that it prevents her from her from writing. That means less output and less improvement. Don’t underestimate the importance of diminishing your patient’s skills. The less she can reveal The Enemy in her work, the more Our Father wins.
I am also savoring the anxiety that her wasting of time produces in her. The fact that she wakes up in the middle of the night multiple times per week worrying that she didn’t write enough words the previous day to keep on her book schedule is self-reinforcing. Each day she doesn’t meet her target will help to produce a feeling of helplessness and derail her from the project altogether. She can tell herself that she’s so busy with her day job that she was crazy to attempt something else, but she’ll know that’s not true. And when she quits, the likelihood that she will attempt something big again gets smaller along with her confidence in herself.
Since you are already doing such a good job in this particular area of her life, my only advice would be to do more of the same. If you can prevent her from focusing more than a few minutes at a time from her work you will have doomed her day – and her career.
Hell is filled with millions of people who spent their lives wanting to be entertained. Make sure she joins the list.
Your affectionate aunt,