A Study In Spacing Out, or “Huh? What’s that now?”

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This article has been submitted by Pratiek Sparsh Samantara for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

The following is a snippet from a conversation I was having with one of my friends yesterday:

“So Deccan Chargers lost again, you know”, he informed me as he read the paper.
“What, again?”
“Yeah. This time by an innings.”
“Damn, aren’t we supposed to improve? Isn’t that the natural course of the universe? Who knew that we’d lose even worse with each progressive match?” I ranted.
“I know, I know. And the army chief said that our nuclear weapons are of national significance and are not just meant for fighting wars.”
“Man! It’s been a horrible week for Indians, isn’t it?”
“No, no, that’s a good thing!”
“Oh.”
“Yeah, and India has a clear no-first-use policy regarding nuclear weapons. See, the problem is that our arsenal…”

And that is where I drifted off.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Spacing Out as being inattentive, distracted or ‘mentally remote’. I find that highly offensive. People who space out aren’t mentally remote. They just have better things to think about. And they do think about them. The point is that when some people space out, it’s not really their fault. The fault lies with those who force a conversation on them, or attempt to needlessly carry it on.

On another myth to do with the subject, Spacing Out isn’t really a vice. When someone talks about something that we know will never interest us, our brain does us a favor by filtering that part out. Again, it’s just that we have far more important pursuits. I go about writing on it in the first person as I feel the need to personally defend the phenomenon as an advocate on behalf of the millions of other people who have, err… more important engagements.

Delving a little deeper into the nitty-gritty of this misunderstood occurrence, one must know that there exist chiefly two kinds of spacing out proclivities: the selective and the non-selective. In the more predominant selective form the subject doesn’t have any control over what he’s doing or not doing. In other words, it is involuntary. Now there may be multiple reasons for this: one may have gotten bored of the topic and not like the other person sufficiently enough to hold on to it. Or he may like the person and the topic might well have exceeded his grasp. One must sympathize with such people.

On the other side is the non-selective version. This is a tendency that very, very few humans portray. One might even call it a super-power (and believe me, I do). In this case, a superior brain enables us to choose that part of the conversation that we want to listen to and edit the rest. Some people might wrongfully perceive this as ‘faking’ or ‘spazzing yourself out’ (as one of my former acquaintances did) but trust me when I say, when we choose to space out, we actually do. It’s a beautiful thing, for those who can behold it.

Having ADD may be slightly disadvantageous if you’re trying to make new friends. But if you do manage to start a friendship in spite of that, then you’ve got a friend for life, one who likes you for what you are. Either that or he too has ADD and spaces out when you do. If you ask me, that makes for a pretty convenient reason to continue to be chummy. So if you think about it, it’s a win-win situation altogether. You ward off those you could never have a future with and have true/easy friends.

So to all those misguided beings who pity us and ‘treat’ us like we had a condition, don’t. We’re better off than you are. When we lose focus, you should take it as a sign and get yourselves treated. Because you may make a big fuss of listening in on everything, but we… Oh, look, a squirrel!

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