Lifestyle Book Reviews

Book Review: Distracted

By Sandy Amazeen Jun 4, 2008, 5:10 GMT

Between the iPod, Blackberry, iPhone, PDA along with a host of other wireless technological wonders, it is difficult to drive down the highway or walk a busy city street and spot someone who isnít plugged in. With the growing stable of devices chiming for our attention it is hardly surprising that most of us are becoming not only increasingly distracted but also, are more easily distracted then ever before. This trend is being passed onto our kids as seen in an assortment of studies being conducted on young children.

Jackson argues the case that these many new diversions are seriously eroding our capacity for deep, sustained attention, a necessary building block of intimacy and wisdom. This erosion could result in the dawning of a new Dark Age as she draws parallels between present day and the Medieval Era, the fall of the Greece and other civilizations. Jackson goes on to the growing problem of ADD while posing the question of how, in todayís ultra busy, multitasking  environment can one tell the difference between ADD or a bad case of modern life. It is a valid point as increasing competition at every level of the educational system continues to pressure younger and younger children as well as adults to excel.

From fast food specifically formulated to be eaten on the go to losing cultural awareness, the 30 second sound-byte mentality is more then a mere sign of the times. It is a red flag warning that our attention spans, the ability to focus on what is important to us, is part of the cost of our ever tightening schedules and a serious problem worthy of our consideration.

This thought provoking book has a serious flaw as the target audience of heavy multimedia users most likely to suffer from an inability to focus, are least likely to read and benefit from the research presented here. While it may be a bit far-fetched to believe a Dark Age is approaching, there is little argument that multitasking takes a toll on us. Thoroughly researched and with plenty of input from a variety of sources, Jackson examines how, from the first telegraph to the largest search engines, technologies are changing how we think and interact with one another. She also shows how readers can reshape their attention, develop focus and nurture the memory, perception and judgment skills needed for a fuller, happier life.



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