Some drug company has been running an ad on TV about adult ADHD or ADD or WD40 (or whatever it’s called). It’s one of those things that stuck in the back of my warped little head until two items in the Sunday New York Times popped it loose to make some weird connections. The first was an article in the business section that talks about how some people have become addicted to data to the point that they have a hard time disconnecting from the wired world.

The pair [authors of yet another study] have their own term for this condition: pseudo-attention deficit disorder. Its sufferers do not have actual A.D.D., but, influenced by technology and the pace of modern life, have developed shorter attention spans. They become frustrated with long-term projects, thrive on the stress of constant fixes of information, and physically crave the bursts of stimulation from checking e-mail or voice mail or answering the phone.

The second piece was a commentary by the always great Maureen Dowd. She saw the same ad I did and went online to take Dr. Grohol’s Psych Central Adult ADD Quiz. Dowd makes some wonderful observations about how our society itself is attention challenged.

Reading over the questions, I realized America has A.A.D.D. The country has always had a pinball attention span, even before the Internet and cable TV accelerated it. The New Republic recently dubbed this "historical attention deficit disorder," when a country gets distracted from focusing on any one place for very long. Our scattered consciousness is the reason we’re so bad at empire, too impatient to hang around hot climes trying to force cold natives to like us.

Dowd also takes part of the test as a surrogate for our "fidgety president and his foreign policy team". The results are very funny and far too close to the truth.

On a more serious note, I just don’t buy much of the mystique and hogwash that surrounds ADD/ADHD. This isn’t a medical condition as much as it is an environmental one. The kids in my classes who had been diagnosed with these conditions also had parents that were high powered multitaskers, always trying to juggle too many balls at one time. By the time they got to our high school, their kids were in the same situation – way too many activities and advanced classes for the time available in their lives and lots of pressure to succeed at everything. In some ways, I guess, their conditions were inherited but only because they learned it from their parents and peers.

OK. I’ve pissed off enough people for one day.