WASHINGTON—In an effort to combat what organizers are calling "our current epidemic of complete and utter obliviousness," the American Foundation for Paying Attention to Things has declared December "National Awareness Month."
"All across the country, millions of men and women are dangerously unaware," AFPAT spokesperson Karen Teeling said during a press conference Monday. "What's worse, the vast majority of those suffering from this debilitating state of mind don't even know it."
"That's why this December we're asking that all Americans stop whatever it is they're doing, and take a moment to open their eyes for once—just once—in their lives," Teeling added. "It'll make all the difference in the world."
According to AFPAT, planned events for National Awareness Month include a 10K charity walk, during which participants will be forced to actually interact and engage with the outside world for a change, as well as several advertising campaigns, which will help get the word out about things other than what currently happens to be playing on television.
Awareness-month organizers will also hand out large reflective ribbons, in hopes that, by wearing a 9-inch yellow reminder on their chests, citizens across the country might actually remember that something is going on.
"Obliviousness doesn't discriminate," said volunteer Robert Fargo, who added that his own father might still be alive today had he been more aware of his surroundings. "Adults, children, the elderly, those staring slack-jawed as their very existence rushes by—obliviousness can strike them all."
Defined as the ability to realize what one is doing, to whom one is doing it, and what the consequences of doing it or not doing it may be, awareness is considered to be a major factor in a number of modern human endeavors, among them: decision-making, prioritizing, and just basically walking around without always bumping into things.
While lack of awareness—or "unawareness," as the foundation calls it—has reached dangerously high levels across the nation, organizers said there are still steps that can be taken by everyone to address the issue.
"A simple self-exam once a month can greatly reduce the chances of becoming unaware," AFPAT founder Michael Poe said. "First, position yourself in front of your bathroom mirror. Second, make eye contact with the reflection in the mirror. Now, while still maintaining eye contact, take three to five minutes to think about the fact that you exist as a human being."
Added Poe, "As long as you can remember to do that and not just completely tune out for an entire year or so, you should be all right."
In addition to distributing literature about raising awareness of awareness itself, and launching a series of bus ads featuring such slogans as "Hey, you! Come on, snap out of it," organizers listed a number of symptoms Americans can look for when attempting to deduce whether or not they're aware.
"Lack of coherent thought is usually a sign of being unaware, as is a fleeting attention span, and forgetting what this particular sentence pertains to midway through reading it," said Dr. Howard Sturges, who has treated several hundred cases of acute obliviousness. "If you suspect you have such a disorder, please contact a health professional immediately, or, as you likely know him, the man in the white lab coat with the shiny thing around his neck who has that office with all the chairs and patients inside of it."
Though they remain confident about the success of the upcoming monthlong event, members of the American Foundation for Paying Attention to Things maintained that the cure for the national unawareness epidemic ultimately lies with the individual.
"We'll do what we can to help, but at some point it's really up to all Americans to make sure they can leave the house in the morning without setting the place on fire, show up to work without looking like a complete moron, or carry on an intelligent conversation without getting distracted by different tile patterns on the floor," AFPAT chairwoman Sheila Winters said. "Hello? Hello?"