Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
Do you text during family dinners or read e-mails during meetings? Does your spouse learn about your day from Facebook? Do you get news about the world by scanning online headlines while also doing something else? Welcome to the land of distraction. Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment. Our attention is scattered among the beeps and pings of a push-button world. We are less and less able to pause, reflect, and deeply connect.
In Distracted, journalist Maggie Jackson ponders our increasingly cyber-centric world and fears we’re entering a dark age of interruption that will render us unable to think critically, work creatively or cultivate meaningful relationships. Jackson warns of what can happen when we lose our ability to sustain focus and erode our capacity for deep attention—the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. The implications for a healthy society are stark. Societal ADD will adversely affect parenting, marriages, personal safety, education and even democracy. And yet we can recover our powers of focus through a renaissance of attention. Neuroscience is just now decoding the workings of attention, with its three pillars of focus, awareness, and judgment, and revealing how these skills can be shaped and taught. In her sweeping quest to unravel the nature of attention and detail its losses, Jackson offers us a compelling wake-up call, an adventure story, and reasons for hope. Put down your smart phone and prepare for an eye-opening journey. We can—and must—learn to focus attention in this Twitter culture.