The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
Author: Maggie Jackson
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Category: Social Science
This is an important book...a harrowing documentation of our modern world's descent into fragmentation, self alienation, and emptiness-brought on, to a large extent, by communication technologies that distract us, dislocate us, and destroy our inner lives.--Alan Lightman, author of the bestselling Einstein's Dreams and National Book Award finalist The Diagnosis and MIT professorThis fascinating book on America's collective ADD is a wake-up call to all of us to take back our lives, turn off the technology, and focus on paying attention to what makes us human and fulfilled.--Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School Professor and author of America the Principled and ConfidenceWe 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. How did we get to the point where we keep one eye on our Blackberry and one eye on our spouse-in bed? We can contact millions of people worldwide, so why is it hard to schedule a simple family supper? Most importantly, what can we do about it? Distracted vividly shows how day by day, our hyper-mobile, cyber-centric, interrupted lives erode our capacity for deep focus and awareness. The implications for a healthy society are stark.Attention is the building block of intimacy, wisdom, and cultural progress. Jackson makes it clear that 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, morality, and happiness. Jackson reveals the astonishing scientific discoveries that can help us rekindle our powers of attention in a world of speed and overload. She offers us a wake-up call, and reasons for hope.Distracted is an original exposé of the multifaceted nature of attention, an engaging and often surprising portrait of postmodern life, and a compelling roadmap for cultivating sustained focus and nurturing a more enriched and literate society. More than ever, we cannot afford to let distraction become the marker of our time.Maggie Jackson (New York, NY) is an award-winning author and journalist who writes the popular Balancing Acts column in the Boston Globe. Her work also has appeared in The New York Times and on National Public Radio, 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.