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The Distraction Addiction

Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues and...

By Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
12-minute read
Audio available
The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues and Destroying Your Soul. by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s The Distraction Addiction (2013) takes a look at attention in today’s distraction-riddled society and asks how we can stay connected and productive. Drawing on fascinating new research by neuroscientists and psychologists, as well as traditional Buddhist thought, Pang offers hands-on advice on how to stay focused and overcome our internet addictions in a new digital age.

  • Parents with internet-addicted children
  • Anyone who feels they couldn’t do without the internet for a day
  • The seriously distracted looking for tips to boost their attention

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is a bestselling author whose work has been translated into seven languages and praised by prestigious newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post. Before founding the Restful Company to teach businesses and individuals about the importance of proper rest, he was a visiting scholar at Stanford University and a forecaster for several Silicon Valley think tanks. He is also the author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (2016).

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The Distraction Addiction

Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues and Destroying Your Soul.

By Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues and Destroying Your Soul. by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Synopsis

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s The Distraction Addiction (2013) takes a look at attention in today’s distraction-riddled society and asks how we can stay connected and productive. Drawing on fascinating new research by neuroscientists and psychologists, as well as traditional Buddhist thought, Pang offers hands-on advice on how to stay focused and overcome our internet addictions in a new digital age.

Key idea 1 of 7

Turn your internet addiction into a productive and flowing relationship.

The internet is at the heart of our lives today. According to Nielsen and the Pew Research Center, the average American spends around 60 hours online every month. Digital devices open up new worlds, but this new age of connectivity can come at a cost.

As we are ever more reliant on our devices, we run the risk of becoming “addicted to the internet.”

If that sounds like an exaggeration, take a look at a study carried out by researchers at the University of Maryland, who asked students from ten different countries to spend a day offline and report their experiences. The results were, to put it mildly, alarming.

The language the students used recalled substance addiction. One participant from the United Kingdom said they “craved” their devices, while an American student added that he “felt like a drug addict, tweaking for a taste of information.” Another British student flatly admitted his addiction: “I don’t need alcohol, cocaine or any other derailing form of social depravity,” he said. “Media is my drug; without it I was lost.”

Another study, conducted in a Boston hospital, echoed these findings. Two out of three participants experienced phantom cell phone vibrations – the uncanny sensation that your phone is ringing when it isn’t.

Scientists define this phenomenon as part of an addiction to the internet. Someone who uses their phone all the time is familiar with the sensation of it vibrating on their skin – when their clothes rub against them, or they feel a small muscle spasm, they immediately assume that it’s the all too familiar sensation of their vibrating phone.

But it doesn’t have to be like this – technology can work as an extension of ourselves when we integrate it into a flowing relationship.

The idea of “flow” was first coined by the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It refers to the way in which we experience the world when deeply engrossed in a task.

The author provides a good example of this – having practiced touch-typing as a child for over a decade, he can now type at least 70 words a minute with his eyes closed. Even when away from his computer, he is able to bring up an imaginary keyboard in his mind’s eye  – a useful trick for when his children ask him how to spell a word!

Addiction is a different experience altogether. When we’re addicted to the internet, we become reliant on it. The author’s example shows what can happen when we are discerning with our use of technology, using it as a helpful tool rather than letting ourselves become slaves to our digital devices.

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