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

by Johann Hari

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8762024,783 (4)10
"Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening-and how to get our attention back. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding it much harder to focus than he used to. He found that a life of constantly switching from device to device, from tab to tab, is diminishing and depressing. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions-even abandoning his phone for three months-but in the long-term, nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention and to study their scientific findings-and learned that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong. In the U.S., teenagers now focus on a task for only sixty-five seconds on average, and office workers manage only three minutes. We think this inability to focus is a personal flaw, an individual failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: Our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces, and the science shows that these forces have been ramping up for decades-leaving us uniquely vulnerable, when social media arrived, to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. These forces have been so successful that our collapse in attention is behind many of the wider problems society faces. In Stolen Focus, Hari embarks on a thrilling journey, taking readers from veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD, to Silicon Valley dissidents who exposed social media companies' furtive attempts to hack our focus; from a favela in Rio where everyone lost their attention in a particularly catastrophic way, to an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore their workers' attention. In this urgent, deeply researched book, Hari shows that if we understand the twelve true causes of this crisis-from the collapse of sustained reading to the disruption of boredom to rising pollution-we, as individuals and as a society, can finally begin to solve it by staging an "attention rebellion." Finally, we have a way to get our focus back"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I loved most of the book, there's been quite some good advice I've been able to use to start healing my focus and I found the sections on how these sites are intentionally made to worsen our attention problems very enlightening. There is however a caveat - the chapter (or was it 2 chapters) on ADHD. Now, I'm not completely against touching on this as the problems with attention and how the environment is made to make it very hard certainly doesn't help people with ADHD, but he comitts all of the cardinal sins; 1) Not neurodivergent, 2) Talks with scientists about ADHD, 3) The scientists are not psychologists, 4) Narrows down ADHD to only being about paying attention, 5) Does not talk to anyone with ADHD or ND organization, 6) Only focuses on children, 7) Talks about cases of children mistakenly getting ADHD diagnosis but all of them are basically cases of gross misconduct by those who did it like a child who got a diagnosis of ADHD because he couldn't pay attention and had been sexually abused. A lot of concern against ADHD medication but really any solution other then that you can improve your attention in other ways, but again attention problems is only one (and maybe not even the biggest) issue people with ADHD have.

So by and large the book was very good, but I did want to write this out. And just as an aside I am SO tired of NTs writing/talking ABOUT US instead of TO US or WITH US. Sigh. ( )
  dond_ashall | Feb 7, 2024 |
Another ADD book that I got as an audiobook, but I’m already very discouraged. I don’t like the narrators accent and the book is too boring for anyone with ADD to finish. Like most self-help books, rather than telling you what you could do to help yourself in a nutshell, they pad and expand the book with long stories about this or that person and what they did. Everyone wants to write an ADD book nowadays and they’re very few that are actually helpful for managing ADD. ( )
  laurelzito | Jan 28, 2024 |
*4.5*

A great (and important) read. I really liked the way Johann Hari writes and how he put all of his stories together into a coherent whole. Many of the topics he dives into will be familiar to a lot of readers, I think (myself included) - but to have them all so clearly presented, and the scientific studies explained, is powerful.
( )
  Alexandra_book_life | Dec 15, 2023 |
Reasons why attention spans and the ability to focus are declining on an individual and social level.

Well-argued and convincing book about an important problem. It's not just that I'm getting older. There are social factors similar to those why the quality of a lot of people's diet in developed countries is declining. It deserves all the stars. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Nov 1, 2023 |
Johann Hari's "Stolen Focus" is an eye-opening read that explores the effects of technology on our focus and daily life. Hari explains in detail how social media firms keep us scrolling and consuming content despite our diminishing ability to concentrate and think critically. The book is full of insightful statements and thoughts that caused me to reflect on my relationship with various forms of modern technology.

The book argues, among other things, that individuals alone can't solve this vast cultural problem. It contends that in order to genuinely regain our concentration, societal and structural changes are required. In the end, I was left with a sense of hopelessness after realizing that our culture has gotten so hectic that we scarcely have time to think, and the challenge of altering this reality seems like it would be practically impossible to accomplish.

As Hari puts it, "What does it mean to be a society and culture so frantic that we don't have time to dream?" That question sums up the book's central concern. It makes me worry that we've lost the ability to let our brains roam, explore, and create because of our reliance on technology and this barrage of continual stimulation.

As the author rightly points out, "as we began to move from books to screens, we started to lose some of the capacity for the deeper reading that comes from books, and that, in turn, made us less likely to read books." I've noticed this countless times while reading. More often than not, I don't spend substantial chunks of time reading because I'd rather check my phone or skim through things online. When I was younger, I would spend hours immersed in a book.

"Stolen Focus" is a thought-provoking book that made me think about my connection with technology, social media, and focus. I've honestly begun to doubt the future of our society and whether we can ever hope to regain our concentration and capacity for deep thought. ( )
  Elizabeth_Cooper | Oct 27, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Cuanto más usas ciertas cosas, más fuertes se hacen las conexiones y mejor funcionan.» Si te cuesta concentrarte, prueba la monotarea durante diez minutos, y después permítete distraerte durante un minuto, y regresa a la monotarea otros diez minutos, y así sucesivamente. «A medida que lo haces, te acostumbras más y a tu cerebro se le da cada vez mejor, porque estás reforzando las conexiones [neuronales] implicadas en esa conducta. Y en poco tiempo podrás hacerlo así durante quince minutos, veinte minutos, media hora... Tú hazlo y ya verás. Practica. Empieza despacio pero practica, y lo conseguirás.»
Los estudios de Mihaly identificaron numerosos aspectos del flujo, pero a mí me parecía —a medida que leía sobre ellos en detalle— que, si quieres llegar hasta allí, lo que debes hacer se reduce a tres componentes fundamentales. Lo primero que hay que hacer es escoger claramente una meta definida: quiero pintar este lienzo; quiero subir corriendo esta montaña; quiero enseñarle a mi hijo a nadar. Debes decidirte a perseguirla, y dejar a un lado tus otras metas mientras lo haces. El flujo solo puede llegar con una «monotarea», cuando optamos por dejar de lado todo lo demás y hacer una sola cosa.
diseño del cerebro... Está diseñado para prestar atención a las cosas que nos importan»
Durante el sueño de ondas lentas, los canales cerebrales de líquido espinal se abren más y eliminan del cerebro los residuos metabólicos», me explicó Roxanne. Cada noche, cuando nos acostamos, se nos enjuaga el cerebro con un fluido acuoso. Ese líquido cerebroespinal lava nuestro cerebro, arrastra las proteínas tóxicas y las lleva hasta el hígado para librarse de ellas. «Así pues, cuando hablo con alumnos de la facultad, a eso lo llamo caquita de neuronas. Si no consigues concentrarte bien, es posible que sea porque tienes demasiada caquita neuronal circulando por ahí.» Ello explicaría por qué, cuando estamos cansados, «sentimos algo así como resaca», porque estamos, literalmente, cubiertos de toxinas.
Tomar pastillas para dormir es como someterse a una anestesia menor. El cuerpo no descansa, no se limpia, no se refresca, no sueña como debe.Roxanne también me dijo que existen algunos usos legítimos de los somníferos: por ejemplo, tomarlos durante un tiempo breve después de haber pasado por una pérdida traumática puede ser sensato. Pero, según su advertencia, «no es la solución al insomnio, indudablemente», y por eso se supone que los médicos no deben recetarlos a largo plazo.
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"Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening-and how to get our attention back. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding it much harder to focus than he used to. He found that a life of constantly switching from device to device, from tab to tab, is diminishing and depressing. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions-even abandoning his phone for three months-but in the long-term, nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention and to study their scientific findings-and learned that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong. In the U.S., teenagers now focus on a task for only sixty-five seconds on average, and office workers manage only three minutes. We think this inability to focus is a personal flaw, an individual failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: Our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces, and the science shows that these forces have been ramping up for decades-leaving us uniquely vulnerable, when social media arrived, to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. These forces have been so successful that our collapse in attention is behind many of the wider problems society faces. In Stolen Focus, Hari embarks on a thrilling journey, taking readers from veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD, to Silicon Valley dissidents who exposed social media companies' furtive attempts to hack our focus; from a favela in Rio where everyone lost their attention in a particularly catastrophic way, to an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore their workers' attention. In this urgent, deeply researched book, Hari shows that if we understand the twelve true causes of this crisis-from the collapse of sustained reading to the disruption of boredom to rising pollution-we, as individuals and as a society, can finally begin to solve it by staging an "attention rebellion." Finally, we have a way to get our focus back"--

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The book to help you realise you are 'not a medieval peasant begging at the court of King Zuckerberg for crumbs of attention'
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