REVIEW: Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson and Bill McKibben

The Dark Ages is typically referred to as the time during the decline of the Roman Empire. In a broader sense, it can be defined as a period of intellectual darkness; people lacking the ability to decipher truth from fiction. The author contends that despite our vast supply of and accessibility to knowledge, we may be headed into a dark age; provided we are not already in one.
I love books on sociology and this one is no exception. Very insightful and balanced as the authors discuss how cultural forces and technology combine to lead us down a path of blindness rather than clarity. With all of our technology the authors focus on examples of how we are not becoming more efficient but rather more dependent on these things, losing the ability to self-regulate and focus our attention. Not using technologies as tools, but more and more using them as crutches to do for us. Handicapping us instead of enriching our lives. Endangering us, rather than protecting us.
Scientifically based, the authors consider the levels of attention (alerting, orienting, and executive functioning) and how they are each used in our daily lives. This analysis caused me to reflect on my own behaviors in light of my family and career. I was truly enlightened here.

I also enjoyed their section on ADHD & ADD. It was very practical as they explored the question of whether or not stronger attention abilities can be learned.

The authors are not “doomsday” prophets claiming we are in the “last days.” They also wonder if this age of distraction can be turned around, ushering in a time when we use the tools we’ve been blessed with to gain deeper understanding.