Monday, May 17, 2010

Distracted by Maggie Jackson

First published in 2008.

We have oceans of information at our disposal, yet we increasingly seek knowledge in online headlines glimpsed on the run. We are networked as never before, but we connect with friends and family via e-mail and fleeting face-to-face moments that are rescheduled and interrupted a dozen times. Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment.

In this new world, something crucial is missing:
attention - the key to recapturing our ability to connect, reflect, and relax; the secret to coping with a mobile, multitasking, virtual world. (book flap blurb)

You know, there are books that are really interesting, you want to read them and see what they have to say, but at the end of the day you just can't bring yourself to actually finish reading it, for whatever reason. Whether it's you're just not in the right frame of mind or you have other things to do or whatever. That's what this book was for me.

I appreciated the message the author was trying to send. I get it. We are one hell of a distracted people because of the technology that we use. That same technology is robbing us of the ability to think and connect deeply because our brain has learned to process information rapidly and move on, not allowing it to sink in at all. I do get it. And I totally agree. But the point that was being made, I don't think, rendered an entire book.

I got I'd say a little less than halfway through it before I just retired the thing. I just felt it really dragged on and belabored the point a little too much. Am I a product of technology in not wanting to delve deeply into what the book had to say? Or what I just plain not interested enough? I'd like to say the latter. It was interesting, just redundant. If you keep firing the same point at me laid out in different sentences, I'm going to start to zone out because I got it the first six times it was said. Let's move it along. I can think on it. Really. I don't need it talked at me over and over and over again.

While I do agree that technology will ultimately destroy us (optimistic, I know), I don't think it's fair to lump a person's disinterest in something as ultimately a product of their inability to think outside of technology. I don't need anyone making excuses for me. While I'm distracted by shiny things, sometimes I'm just not interested because I'm bored by the material. It's allowed and has been happening for eons outside of technology.

So this book doesn't get a rating because I didn't finish it. If you're looking for a good, in-depth view of the effects technology has on society, you'll find it in this book. But it is wordy, it is heavy-handed and it is redundant so beware. Not like I didn't know I would be getting something akin to an essay in this book. I just didn't think it'd be so derivative of itself.

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