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Choose your topics wisely

I was looking up whether gnocchi had eggs in it (a vegan question actually) when the topic of Clarence Thomas came up.  I was caught waiting for Italian recipes while an argument slowly brewed about Thomas’ fitness for the highest bench in the land.   The Supreme Court was rarely discussed with most of my cohorts and I knew my image of Thomas was entirely shaded by his confirmation proceedings.  I wanted to give the man a fair shake, get to know his opinions and what others thought of him.  All of this could have been possible—even as the conversation grew—from the convenience of my device.  But unfortunately, I was stuck waiting on a slow site.

I had forgotten one of the basic rules of a portable brain.  It is not meant to be used for looking up minutia when larger topics loom.


You find yourself easily interacting with your device, looking up odds and ends about the current vein of conversation when you find yourself stalled on a topic when suddenly conversation shifts to a major them.  You want to participate but know little.  Worse yet, your device is busily engaged in prior topic.  What can you do?


If you have used discretion in choosing which topics to explore with your device, you will be fine.  However, if the conversation has shifted or you are off on a detour, you must quickly switch.  The key is how engaged you are in the conversation while using your device.


To use one’s discretion about anything is a loaded gun.  On one hand, you want to have the freedom to explore without thinking of the consequences.  On the other hand, if you are like me, this has gotten you in more trouble than you can remember.

Finding the right balance between your curiosity and its consequences takes practice.  But as it concerns your device and its role in active searching, take the following steps.

  1. After admitting you know very little about a subject, gauge your level of curiosity about the subject.  For example, if it is about politics and you generally run the other dierection on the topic, why even open up a search for a candidate’s poll numbers?  If you find yourself trying to score points in a conversation (say, you are trying to impress a gorgeous, flutter-eyed honey), then simply disavow any real interest in the topic.  “I’m not usually that caught up in politics, but this candidate sounds a bit different.  Let’s see what his poll numbers really are.”
  2. It is perfectly acceptable to be caught in one topic when another comes up.  The question is whether you should stick with the original search when a new arises.  IF the new topic is gaining momentum and it is a larger group, the answer is “yes.”
  3. Focus on the discussion and make eye contact.  Where is the topic going?  What are the sides that are being to take shape?  Listen carefully to facts and opinions as they begin to be voiced.
  4. Immediately stop your current search.  Pinpoint the topic and begin searching for a few details, ones that would illuminate the discussion.  Do not look for opinions.  Seek facts from reliable sites on the web.
  5. Switch between your device and the discussion.
  6. Tiptoe into the discussion with your usual confessions of your knowledge and what you find fascinating.
  7. At appropriate times, let your eyes drop to the screen of your device when searches are complete.  Speed-read the information.  Skip through the articles looking for current happenings or synopses.

Judicious searching will keep you well-informed and involved in the discussions.  Keep in mind that one of the key objectives is to learn something new about the topic.  Don’t rush to an opinion if you are new to the topic.  By the same token, listen to other opinions.  Yours may always change in the light of new facts or from insights expressed by others.

Also see Mobo Brain: A Guide to Mobile Brainpower

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