It was a surreal moment watching others in the room talk, laugh and chow down while human beings were being sawed up and their organs removed and examined on screen, and difficult to believe that those present weren't at least peripherally aware of what was on the television.
This onslaught of technologically-enabled intrusive behavior was identified as early as 1996. With the modern Internet in relative infancy, researchers at Harvard coined the term "viral marketing" to describe media that replicates much like biological forms.
Then the researchers felt it could be manipulated to hasten our evolution, but it seems more likely to be hastening our devolution.
The military passed through this phase a decade ago.
Military leaders realized they were being bombarded by data, some accurate, some bogus, instead of actionable knowledge that left them in what was termed "analysis paralysis." Satellites, spy planes and drones, signal and human intelligence, much of it conflicting, flooded commanders, leaving them unable to decide on what course of action to pursue. Only when they realized that too much raw data was hindering their decision-making ability were they able to pull back and begin to make reasonable, timely decisions when faced with crisis.
It is time for us as a society to pull back as well.
A few suggestions:
No one needs the constant, negative stimulation television provides, especially the more hysterical cable news programs; turn it off.
Probably the best example of viral technology is texting. When was the last time you sent or received an important text message?
You don't have to answer every text, and I'd guess you don't have to even read them. They are mostly niggling gibberish and shouldn't be allowed to distract you.
Unless it's a critical business function, only check your e-mail or messages once a day. Don't forward anything, reply-to-all, or give encouragement to those who do.
If you can't forgo any of the above, then please, for the love of God, don't blog, text, twitter (or whatever the next idiotic technological development is) whatever random thought crosses your mind; it probably isn't that important.
Don't ignore the world around you. Just examine it deliberately at your own time and pace. Removing yourself from the vortex of news, gossip and rumors can be startlingly calming, and you might find that things are not be as bad as they seem.