Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains
Paying attention isn't a simple act of self-discipline, but a cognitive ability with deep neurobiological roots — and these roots, says Maggie Jackson, are in danger of dying.
In Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Jackson explores the effects of "our high-speed, overloaded, split-focus and even cybercentric society" on attention. It's not a pretty picture: a never-ending stream of phone calls, e-mails, instant messages, text messages and tweets is part of an institutionalized culture of interruption, and makes it hard to concentrate and think creatively.
Of course, every modern age is troubled by its new technologies. "The telegraph might have done just as much to the psyche [of] Victorians as the Blackberry does to us," said Jackson. "But at the same time, that doesn't mean that nothing has changed. The question is, how do we confront our own challenges?"