“The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in A High-Tech World” by neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and psychologist Dr. Larry Rosen has a clear message: distractions, especially from our beloved smartphones, have a MASSIVE effect on critical, short-term and long-term cognitive processes in our brain, and as individuals and as a society, we are starting to pay a price for it.
Why Are We Distracted? – The authors posit that when we answer to distractions, we are “foraging for information” and when we stop experiencing benefits from a conversation, website, whatever, we move on, pull out the phone, open a new tab, in a quest for more info. As we invite more distractions, of shorter duration into our lives, the benefits we experience diminishes in an exponential loop, causing us to move on faster.
Cognitive Costs to Distraction – Not only does this book 100% debunk the myth of multi-tasking, it discusses the dramatic drop in performance when we do choose to switch between tasks. Surprisingly, when we dabble endlessly in distraction, the biggest hit to our cognitive control comes in an increasing inability to set high-end goals for ourselves. So not only does distraction from technology affect us in the short-term, but it can have a long-term effect of keeping us from setting and achieving complicated plans and strategies.
What Can We Do? – Thankfully, by suggesting meditation, mindful and scheduled use of smartphones, and a host of distraction blocking apps and software, the authors do provide solutions for the problem of distraction. But the onus is on us – but who will stay on top of us?
This book was powerful in many ways. In reading it, I gained an awareness of the immense and unalterable damage that technology-fueled-distraction is inflicting on our lives and our society.
Entertaining the negative sides of technology seems to goes against our iPhone culture, it silently shuns our idol Steve Jobs, or it puts an unnecessary and ethical kink in the swollen firehose of free-market ideology.
But ignoring the lessons in this book may prove to be the connected world’s un-doing
– high-tech distractions are interfering with basic human cognition to such a degree, that people’s behavior and reactions are being devolved to their basest levels, leaving only animal reactions set on short fuses. And we could stop it all, if we could just pay attention…..
I’d suggest this book as mandatory, but then again, maybe none of us have time to read it. Thank God I wrote this then.