Step Away from the Keyboard

February 14, 2009

I’m prone to distraction. Part of this stems from many years working in newsrooms, mostly as an editor who thrived on the dual high of daily deadlines and the unexpected. Loving all things web-based hasn’t helped either.

Now comes Maggie Jackson’s book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, which examines the effects of our increasingly fragmented ability to focus.

In a Q & A titled “Digital Overload is Frying Our Brains,” she recently told Wired magazine:

This degree of interruption is correlated with stress and frustration and lowered creativity. That makes sense. When you’re scattered and diffuse, you’re less creative. When your times of reflection are always punctured, it’s hard to go deeply into problem-solving, into relating, into thinking.

Reading about Jackson’s work reminded me of my good friend Charlie. I’m confident he knows how to focus with admirable rigor. Charlie doesn’t respond to email when he’s traveling — he’s got enough on his mind, piloting commercial jets.

After reading my blog post extolling the use of Twitter, Charlie commented that maybe I “should step away from the keyboard.” Even when we were kids, he saw things clearly.