Is Our Attention Fractured?

How much is too much?

In many ways, we live in a golden age of media content. Thanks to education, more people know more about more topics than ever before. And thanks to the Internet, production and distribution are cheaper and easier than ever.

It would take you a lifetime to watch all the shows and movies on Netflix. Would you like to listen to a podcast on cryptozoology? You have your choice between dozens. You can get lost at your local library, in e-books or the old-fashioned print kind.

No generation in history has had access to so much. To put it another way, there have never been so many demands on our attention as there are now.

What does that mean for us?

There’s no reason to ever have an unproductive moment. Do you have a spare moment waiting in the grocery checkout line? You can scroll through social media. Riding the bus to work? Read an article from that niche magazine you like. Zoning out while on the treadmill at the gym? Listen to a workout mix from a streaming music service.

All this content means we can consume more. In theory, that means we are exposed to more, and more diverse, stories. But do we need time to actually be able to process this information? Rather than just going on to the next book, the next podcast, the next article, the next blog, is it necessary to take some time to internalize, to place the information in context? In addition, if we want to make content ourselves we need to alternate between consumption and production.

Moreover, in child development, isn’t it necessary that children learn to entertain themselves? How can that be done if they are constantly being entertained by other sources?

Occasionally, it is only through absence that we come to appreciate the world. Your favorite food tastes even better if you haven’t had it for a year. The warmth of summer feels all the better after the cold of winter. To that end, do we need to spend some time NOT reading or listening to stories, binging TV shows, or watching movies in order to appreciate them all the more?

Is some downtime required? How do we choose between the multitude of demands on us? Is our attention fractured?

Related questions: Are we too busy? How can we maintain wonder? How do you set priorities? What makes something memorable? What are you willing to sacrifice?

Could Everyone Benefit From Therapy?

There are multiple ways of viewing therapy and the role it may play in our lives.

First of all, you might view it as you might a dentist. You schedule regular check-ups, which are supposed to be preventative. That way, you avoid dental issues. Or if you have them, you might just need a small filling rather than a root canal.

A psychiatrist, or a couple therapist, can be used in the same way. Deal with small issues in your mental health, or in your relationship, before they become big ones.

On the other hand, you may think of a therapist as you would a plumber. As long as your sinks are working fine, there is no need to get help. But once there is a clog, a professional is the way to go.

In the same way, therapy might be something you only need when there is an issue to deal with. If there is some sort of mental problem or obstacle that you cannot deal with yourself, you need professional help.

Lastly, you might think that therapy simply isn’t for you. Maybe you aren’t comfortable discussing (or even thinking) about your innermost thoughts, desires, or problems. Or perhaps the idea of sharing them, particularly with a stranger, feels wrong. Maybe it makes you feel better to read a self-help book or two. Or even to ignore your problems and hope they go away.

So which is it for you? Have you seen a therapist? Do you think it best to be proactive to avoid issues, deal with them once they arise, or just try and handle them on your own?

Could everyone benefit from therapy?

Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? What is your retreat from the world? How do you judge yourself? How can we appreciate life more?

How Do You Learn?

Learning is something we do throughout our lives. We learn to walk, to talk, to play, to interact with others. Sometimes we have formal education, from elementary school to high school, to college, graduate school, perhaps even adult education. We learn on the job, how to be a good spouse and then a parent.

With all this learning happening, knowing how you learn can have a big impact on your life. Understanding what works for you to remember, recall, and utilize information is paramount.

Some people get the most out of education by seeing. Others might internalize best through hearing. Perhaps you learn best by writing. Or doing.

With the important role learning plays in our lives, it is a little surprising schools don’t offer formal education in how to study. Students are usually expected to just figure out what works best for themselves.

If you were to take such a class, or perhaps even to teach it, what would it show? How do you learn?

Related questions: How does your vocabulary influence how you think? What are the benefits of fiction? How do you define success? How do we know what we don’t know? What makes something memorable? How important is the repetition in our lives?