November 2022

Stolen Focus

— Why You Can't Pay Attention--And How to Think Deeply Again
Stolen Focus
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I’ve read and written much about our recent attention struggles as a society. When Johann Hari came out with Stolen Focus, I had to get myself a copy. 

Hari has prepared an honest investigation in our attention struggles. He draws from research across the world, including interviews with the foremost leaders on attention and how our technology increasingly impacts it. 

He begins with his journey to rediscover his life without technology – no phone, no internet, no email, no social media, no nothing for 3 months in an experiment of digital detoxification. Hari then shares incredible insights from personal experience and connects his struggles with well-researched backings. Through this book you will learn that your attention struggles may not be all your fault – with many other factors at play. 

The result of his experience and research has culminated into an honest, introspective journey of our individual and collective attention. He explores the questions most of us our asking ourselves regarding our focus and the impact it has on virtually every aspect of our lives – and what it means for the coming generations. 

Our favourite quote from Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention--and How to Think Deeply Again

Democracy requires the ability of a population to pay attention long enough to identify real problems, distinguish them from fantasies, come up with solutions, and hold their leaders accountable if they fail to deliver them.

In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions—even abandoning his phone for three months—but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention—and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.

We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.

Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus—as individuals, and as a society—if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.

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If you are struggling to focus or want to learn more about attention, grab a copy of Stolen Focus. It changed the way I see how we are handling attention and I hope it does the same for you.

Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.