I think that technology is wonderful and that we just need to be aware of how much of a pull it exerts on us and how difficult that can be to avoid. We need to learn to train our attention because, as with anything, attention is like a muscle. It’s an analogy that you hear over and over in psychology – self-control is like a muscle.
If you train it, it gets stronger, it gets better. You are able to lift more weight. We have more endurance. And similarly with attention, the more you train yourself to uni-task and to only pay attention to one thing at a time, the longer and longer and longer you’re able to maintain your focus.
So what’s happening when people say that they can’t pay attention is that they haven’t trained their attention. They’ve forgotten what it is to have a single-minded focus. And because they haven’t trained it their attention actually has gotten worse.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.