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May I have your undivided attention please? Yes I know you are
reading this but may I have your heads out of all those
21st-century distractions, by which I mean your iPhones, Facebook,
May I have your undivided attention please? Yes I know you are reading this but may I have your heads out of all those 21st-century distractions, by which I mean your iPhones, Facebook, Instagram and so on. Are you here? Good. Now count your breaths and try whatever it takes to resist the urge of fixating your eyes on the image above or to have a quick look over the sponsored/collections tabs beside. Fine now it's just you and me.
Over the last several years, the problem of attention has migrated right into the centre of our cultural attention. We have our minds all over the places. While checking Instagram we actually would be thinking about if our crush would reply to our text or not. And as if the notification centre couldn't be trusted, we would open WhatsApp in middle of our Instagram scrolling so that we could be content about that text which is never going to come! Around 40 years earlier when the world wasn't consumed by the technology and the creators of Google didn't even manage to get themselves born, the polymath economist Herbert A. Simon wrote maybe the most concise possible description of our modern struggle: What information consumes is rather obvious: It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
So next comes the need to overcome this problem or else we would be spending hours of our time in a 'Mental Gym' in a very near future. According to Winifred Gallagher, an acclaimed author, when such situations steal away our what is called 'bottom-up'(the broad involuntary awareness that roams the world constantly looking for danger and rewards: shiny objects, sudden movements, pungent smells) attention, we need to isolate ourselves from it and need to call our 'top-down' (the narrow, voluntary focus that allows us to isolate and enhance some little slice of the world while ruthlessly suppressing everything else) attention. This self-control of attention is called 'executive function'. Another solution given by Gallagher to fight our attention crisis ages back to ancient times; Meditation. She says this is the most promising solution to our problem and it has also been proven scientifically.
Concluding, here are few words of wisdom by Gallagher: "Once you understand how attention works and how you can make the most productive use of it", she says, "if you continue to just jump in the air every time your phone rings or pounce on those buttons every time you get an instant message, thats not the machines fault. Thats your fault".