I recently read an article in the N.Y. Times, titled “Addicted to Distraction”, written by Tony Schwartz. Fascinating reading! He shares that reading books has been “a deep and consistent source of pleasure, learning and solace” all his life, and how, to his horror and surprise, he had found himself recently unable to focus sufficiently to actually finish a book! He attributes this lack of focus to an increasing need to check his email and to surf online.
Mr. Schwartz cites some interesting research:
“The brain’s craving for novelty, constant stimulation and immediate gratification creates something called a ‘compulsion loop.’ Like lab rats and drug addicts, we need more and more to get the same effect. Endless access to new information also easily overloads our working memory. When we reach cognitive overload, our ability to transfer learning to long-term memory significantly deteriorates.”
Like Mr. Schwartz, I find that the Internet and its seemingly endless and myriad offerings can be the ultimate distraction machine! I too have been a voracious reader all my life and am always, and have always been, in the midst of reading at least one book. Like the author, I had found lately that the pull of email, Facebook, texts, and just plain surfing was beginning to feel like an addiction that was seriously cutting into my reading time! I realized that I had to do something, and fast. The technology that had pulled me in so recently and effectively was my new smart phone. I had been a late adopter of this technology, and its hold on me totally took me by surprise! I decided to take action and promptly eliminated several shortcuts from the phone meaning that if I really want to check something online I am more apt to do it an actual computer, which is obviously not something I walk around with. What a welcome relief!
In the month since I have taken action, I have finished two books. Ahhh. I’m back to my old self and calmer too.
So if you really want to relax, visit the Library, check out a (real) book – put the phone down, step away from the computer, and just READ!