Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
By Maggie Jackson
Published by Prometheus Books
June 2008;$25.95US; 978-1-59102-623-5
We have oceans of information at our disposal, yet we increasingly seek knowledge in online headlines glimpsed on the run. We are networked as never before, but we connect with friends and family via e-mail and fleeting face-to-face moments that are rescheduled and interrupted a dozen times. Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment.
In this new world, something crucial is missing: attention — the key to recapturing our ability to connect, reflect, and relax; the secret to coping with a mobile, multitasking, virtual world. Distracted vividly shows how, day by day, our hyper-mobile, cyber-centric, interrupt-driven lives erode our capacity for deep focus and awareness. The long-term implications for a healthy society are stark.
Attention is the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. If we squander our powers of attention, our technological age could ultimately slip into cultural decline. And yet we are just as capable of igniting a renaissance of attention by strengthening our skills of focus and perception, the keys to judgment, memory, and happiness. Maggie Jackson reveals the astonishing scientific discoveries that can help us rekindle our powers of attention in a world of speed and overload.
Distracted is an original exposé of the multi-faceted nature of attention, an engaging and often surprising portrait of postmodern life, and a compelling road map for cultivating sustained focus and nurturing a more enriched and literate society. Jackson offers us both a wake-up call — and a reason for hope.
Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and The Coming Dark Age, is an award-winning author and journalist who writes the popular “Balancing Ads” column in the Boston Globe. Her work also has appeared on National Public Radio and in the New York Times, among other national publications. Her acclaimed first book, What’s Happening to Home? Balancing Work, Life, and Refuge in the Information Age, examined the loss of home as a refuge.