Saturday 10 September 2022

Book ~ "Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again" (2022) Johann Hari

From Goodreads ~ In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions - even abandoning his phone for three months - but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention - and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.

We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers' productivity.

The author was feeling lack of focus and decided to do something about it.  He spent three months off the grid in Providence, RI ... he left behind his fancy phone and bought a phone that didn't allow him to access WIFI.  He spent the summer reading, walking on the beach and actually talking with people.  At the end, he found peace, was less stressed and was sleeping better.  When he tuned back in on the Internet, he discovered he really hadn't missed all that much. 

He spent three years researching for this book ... and he seemed to have done a lot.  It's an interesting take on why we can't focus ... not surprising social media, technology, the food we eat, stress and more contribute to our lack of focus.  Rather than depending on companies to help us out (they are just in it for themselves), it's up to us to take responsibility for ourselves and step away from social media and technology, eat better, exercise and more to bump up our ability to focus.

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