Wow, this book left me with a lot to chew on. I went into Stolen Focus thinking it would center mostly around screentime and social media, but I was pleasantly surprised that Johann Hari gave a more holistic view on what is causing us to have shorter and shorter attention spans. Of course, there are screens like TVs, iPad, video games, cell phones, etc. and social media, but there is also increased pollution, as well as additives and dyes in foods that contribute to our ability to focus. The section where Hari discusses parenting was a bit of a stretch IMO. While I agree strict helicopter parenting does limit your child from being able to have the freedom to play and make mistakes, I also am not about to let me kids go roam the neighborhoods like I did as a child, because well, it's a different world out there. But I get the concept. Children need the freedom to make choices, gain confidence and test out independence.
Overall, I got a lot out of this book. I have started working more intentionally on monotasking, blocking time to focus on one task while working, and have been working on picking up my phone less and living my life more. It also has reminded me to slow down and re-assess why and how I use social media. Over the last two weeks, I have lost over 25 followers. No idea why, but it makes me reflect on why that bothers me.
Did 25 people come up to my face and say, "I don't like you."
No. But why does it feel that way?
I realize I seek validation in social media and that is not healthy. I started this account as a way to read more, connect with other bookworms and flex my writing and creativity skills, not to count how many likes my recent post got or track my follower count.
Stolen Focus is a great companion book to Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, which I often recommend to friends who are looking to better their relationship with their cell phones. Much of Johann Hari's research compliments Cal Newport's, when it comes to social media and cell phone usage. While Digital Minimalism is more tangible with its advice and offers a digital declutter plan, Stolen Focus aims to paint the broader picture of why as a society our attention span has decreased and what is to blame. Both are great and should be required reading for our next generation of internet and cell phone users.
Now put that phone down, turn off that computer, throw that tablet to the side and get outside!