From Publishers Weekly
In this richly detailed and passionately argued book, Jackson (What's Happening to Home?) warns that modern society's inability to focus heralds an impending Dark Age—an era historically characterized by the decline of a civilization amid abundance and technological advancement. Jackson posits that our near-religious allegiance to a constant state of motion and addiction to multitasking are eroding our capacity for deep, sustained, perceptive attention—the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress and stunting society's ability to comprehend what's relevant and permanent. The author provides a lively historical survey of attention, drawing upon philosophy, the impact of scientific innovations and her own experiences to investigate the possible genetic and psychological roots of distraction. While Jackson cites modern virtual life (the social network Facebook and online interactive game Second Life), her research is largely mired in the previous century, and she draws weak parallels between romance via telegraph and online dating, and supernatural spiritualism and a newfound desire to reconnect. Despite the detours (a cultural history of the fork?), Jackson has produced a well-rounded and well-researched account of the travails facing an ADD society and how to reinvigorate a renaissance of attention. (June)
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"Maggie Jackson is one of the most original and perceptive journalists writing about the challenges of modern life. In Distracted, she explores our hectic, multi-tasking world. She shows that while digital technology fills our lives with information and entertainment, it is far too often at the expense of human contact and thoughtful reflection. This book will make you slow down and think." -- Senator Amy Klobuchar
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"Maggie Jackson's fascinating book on America's collective attention deficit disorder is a wake-up call to all of us to take back our lives, turn off the technology, and focus on paying attention to what makes us human and fulfilled." -- Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School Professor and author of America the Principled and Confidence.
"This is an important book. I found it to be a harrowing documentation of our modern world's descent into fragmentation, self alienation, and emptiness -- brought on, to a large extent, by communication technologies that distract us, dislocate us, and destroy our inner lives. Others have commented on these issues, but I have never seen them gathered together and documented as completely as Maggie Jackson has done." -- Alan Lightman, author of the bestselling Einstein's Dreams and National Book Award finalist The Diagnosis and MIT professor