John Leonard an audience of one.

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Dummies

The idea for this piece of text came to me earlier on today when I was trying to calm my baby son, and in thinking about it more it’s an analogy that extends far further than the care and soothing of babies. In one way or another, we all have dummies.

Freddie, like most babies, needs something to suck on now and again to calm him down. We introduced him to the magic of a dummy out of sheer need - it was something that got him off to sleep more easily, and so gave his mother and I a few more precious minutes of sleep, or time to do anything that didn’t involve constant watching or feeding or soothing of our infant. Now he takes it every now and then as a handy mechanism to drift off, though he rarely needs it once asleep. The magical irony of this is that once he is asleep, I frequently turn to the dummy of my own - the internet.

I was going to write that my dummy is my iPad, or my iPhone, or my mac, but it’s any and all of those three. All represent a gateway to the internet in one form or another, and depending on the need at the time some will represent more of it than others (the mac, having a keyboard, tends to be used for more creation, typing, occasionally coding or capturing ideas that the keyboard gives me more freedom to do). The end result is the access to a constantly updated resource of ideas, inspiration, entertainment and distraction from the other things in my life I should be doing.

In thinking of the internet as a dummy - at least, that’s how I think of it at the moment - it gives me an interesting viewpoint on how much I use it and what I use it for. For Freddie, it’s a handy tool to relax him enough to get him off to sleep; in this context it’s the gateway to something more productive. This poses a contrast for me as I’m going online to distract myself from other tasks. I’ve written several times about how I will do almost anything but spend time on the projects that I once got excited about, and the allure of social networking, tech news and random games is my own drug. In this analogy I have the dummy stuffed in my mouth all the time.

That leads me to consider how I should focus on reducing the distraction and get back to the point of working on the projects that I have told myself I want to do. I have already ditched and started up several ideas - none of which have got remotely to the point of shipping - so although success is yet to be envisioned I haven’t stopped trying yet. Instead, I let myself get distracted and sidelined into something that I can easily call research but isn’t anything of the sort. It’s prevarication, procrastination, and distraction of the very worst sort, and when I castigate myself for a lack of progress on projects I have only my desire to be easily distracted to blame.

For this idea to stick requires, as I’ve said several times before, the grit and determination to continue with projects that I want to do, instead of the happy distraction of other things. The dummy analogy isn’t a solution to any of the procrastination concerns, it’s simply another way at looking at how I get distracted. I hope one day to find enough of these analogies for one of them to stick, and act as a reminder that I should be working on my projects.