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20230423 – Stolen Focus




This book is about human focus, which is the human ability and even the need to concentrate narrowly on some informational process, whether reading, problem analysis, communication with others, etc. The focus also means excluding everything else that is not in focus from human perception and thoughts, as if it just does not exist. The book discusses at length the necessity of focus for being productive in any area of human activity and technology that distract people from applying it effectively. The author also discusses the consequences of this distraction, which include the inability to deal with complex problems and adherence to simplistic solutions. Eventually, this inability to focus on effective problem solutions causes stress, illness, and a general failure to have a good life. In conclusion, the author offers six behavioral changes that could help manage attention and control focus.


It is a good review of the problem, with many references to psychological research and books. For me, the problem does not look too tricky to resolve, probably because I grew up in an environment where the primary news source was radio and one TV program, computers were mainframes not accessible to people, and books were available only within limits established by the totalitarian government. This was the environment of severe informational deprivation combined with the massive overflow of propaganda and disinformation in all forms conceivable. But on the other hand, this environment provided good training for setting up filters to select what makes sense and what does not, which tools help get things done, and which mainly distract one from doing this. So, I think the distraction problem will be resolved via training in setting similar filters from early childhood. In addition, such training should develop skills in consciously deciding what one wants to achieve, what information one needs for this, and which tools are best; after that, one can just cut off all this noise and even forget about its existence.


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