Lg-PD-1-derail-flag Do you suffer from Shiny Thing Syndrome?

Millions of Americans are afflicted with this debilitating condition. Every day, they miss opportunities to learn about important topics — fail to connect deeply with the people around them — trade superficial wordplay for understanding.

Common symptoms include:

  • the inability to remember names.
  • conversation fatigue, jumping from topic to topic until all conversation is exhausted within minutes.
  • silence anxiety, based on the mistaken notion that silence suggests an inability to think.

What stands in their way? The latest Shiny Thing.

What Are These Shiny Things?
Shiny Things are little distractions that immediately shift any conversation. For those who are challenged — and all of us are, to some extent — we react like a cat facing a small piece of tin foil dangling from a string.

Many Shiny Things are worthy of distracting the group, such as:

  • When a large truck or thunderstorm is suddenly bearing down on the conversational group.
  • When a baby laughs, cries, or worse.
  • When the electricity goes off.
  • When smoke comes from the kitchen.
  • When a neighbor is knocking at the window.
  • When a giant string is unexpectedly lowered with a giant piece of tin foil attached.
  • When one of the members of the group has suddenly solved a giant problem, like the Cold Fusion Challenge or the Paradox of World Peace.

However, most Shiny Things are not worthy; they are simply interruptions that are raised so that the interrupter doesn't need to think silently. Examples:

  • "Oh, look, someone has walked into the room. Even though we are talking about the meaning of life, I will switch the conversation immediately to a description of the entering person's shoes."
  • "Say, before I forget to tell you — even though you are describing a transaction about which I just inquired — I'm going to bake a cake next Thursday."
  • "Yeah, yeah, whatever — now this!"

While these Shiny Things might seem small, they become significant by derailing all conversation.

I Battle Shiny Thing Syndrome
Shiny Thing Syndrome
is aggravated by anxiety. When I am anxious, I am easily distracted and seek to control the conversation around me.

I am determined to overcome this self-limiting disease.

Happily, potential remedies are at hand. I play with these alternatives to keep the Shiny Thing at bay:

  • I breathe. Buddhists don't jump to Shiny Things. Here's how.
  • When a Shiny Thing dangles within reach, I remind myself of the topic at hand.
  • I lean forward, toward the person who is already speaking.
  • I make a note, silently, to remind myself of the Shiny Thing, deferring to the conversation already on the table.

How long can you stay on the topic?