Samara O'Shea

Attention Please

The May 25 issue of New York magazine has a great article about the attention crisis—our inability to focus as a result of some many types of technical stimulation. I couldn’t find the article online to link to—I’ll keep looking. Their Web site is involved. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite bits that I’ve encountered so far:

~ We keep an average of eight windows open on our computer screens at one time and skip between them every twenty seconds. When we read online, we hardly even read at all—our eyes run down in an F pattern scanning for keywords. When you add up all the leaks from these constant little switches, soon you’re hemorrhaging a dangerous amount of mental power. People who frequently check their e-mail have tested as less intelligent then people who are actually high on marijuana.

~ The jackhammers are everywhere—iPhones, e-mail, cancer—Western culture’s attention crisis is mainly a widespread failure to ignore them.

~ “Once you understand how attention works and how you can make the most productive use of it,” she says, “if you continue to just jump in the air every time your phone rings or pounce on those buttons every time you get an instant message, that’s not the machine’s fault. That’s your fault.”