A long read from David Roberts, a star political blogger for Grist.org, but contains so many well-written nuggets on various things I too have been contemplating these last few months.
Some particular quotes highlighting that I’m trying to be mindful of, and also plan to educate our kids about:
All my in-between moments, the interstitial transitions and pauses that fill the cracks of a day, were crowded with pings. My mind was perpetually in the state that researcher and technology writer Linda Stone termed continuous partial attention. I was never completely where I was, never entirely doing what I was doing. I always had one eye on the virtual world.
Because most Web services are “free”—that is, supported by advertising—their very survival depends on distracting and bewitching their users. Silicon Valley software engineers design apps that way on purpose; they’re quite clever at it. Because America’s culture of professional overwork and exhaustion is unrestrained by workplace regulations or conventions governing e-mail, unceasing connectivity has become an unspoken job requirement. Because social groups coalesce and plan online, even brief screenless periods breed FOMO, the fear of missing out.
Nature provides what University of Michigan psychologist Stephen Kaplan has termed soft fascinations. (Dibs on the band name.) We are shaped by evolution to heed the ebb and flow of drifting clouds, rustling grass, and singing birds. Unlike voluntary or directed attention—the kind required by, say, a spreadsheet—“effortless attention” produces no fatigue. It’s the mental equivalent of floating on your back, and a rested mind is a more productive mind.