Silicon Valley makes billions by stealing your attention. No wonder it’s so hard to focus…
One Friday in April 2016, as that year’s polarising US presidential race intensified, and more than 30 armed conflicts raged around the globe, approximately 3 million people spent part of their day watching two reporters from BuzzFeed wrap rubber bands around a watermelon. Gradually, over the course of 43 agonising minutes, the pressure ramped up – the psychological kind and the physical force on the watermelon – until, at minute 44, the 686th rubber band was applied.
What happened next won’t amaze you: the watermelon exploded, messily. The reporters high-fived, wiped the splatters from their reflective goggles, then ate some of the fruit. The broadcast ended. Earth continued its orbit around the sun.
Social media is engineered to constantly adapt to our interests. No wonder the rest of reality seems unable to compete
We mustn’t let Silicon Valley off the hook, but we should be honest: much of the time, we give in to distraction willingly
When we succumb to distraction, we’re motivated by the desire to flee something painful about our experience of the present
What we think of as distractions aren’t the cause of our being distracted. They’re just the places we go to seek relief