Our Own Personal Hypnotoad
I attended a philosophy conference a week ago. I walked in late to the keynote speech, and circled the back of the lecture hall to join my friend on the other side. Thus, I got to see what almost everyone "listening" to the lecture was doing. At least a third of the people in the hall were... fiddling around with their smart phones!
So, let us wrap our minds around this: every person in that hall was there voluntarily. Presenting at the conference may look good on their CV, but no one is going to check and see if they attended the keynote address or not. They could've gone out, on this beautiful Saturday at St. John's University, sat on the grass, and texted their friends for the duration of the keynote lecture, and no one would've been the wiser. On one level, they must have thought, "I don't want to miss this lecture."
But this was a philosophy lecture, one which took one's full attention to follow. And these people were not following it. They were unable to keep their attention on the lecture for more than a few minutes without pulling out the little personal hypnotoad we all keep in our pockets these days, and staring into its mesmerizing eye.