The writer Alain de Botton wrote:
“It is one of the unexpected disasters of the modern age that our new unparalleled access to information has come at the price of our capacity to concentrate on anything much.
The deep, immersing thinking which produced many of civilization’s most important achievements has come under unprecedented assault.
We are almost never far from a machine that guarantees us a mesmerizing and libidinous escape from reality.
The feelings and thoughts which we have omitted to experience while looking at our screens are left to find their revenge in involuntary twitches and our ever-decreasing ability to fall asleep when we should.”
He is not the first, nor will he be the last author, philosopher, thinker saying that our ability to concentrate is going downhill.
The ability to concentrate on a single thought and focus of your mind is much more than just a trait of personal magnetism.
It’s a trait that allows a bigger amount of success and achievement in your life.
For me, it tends to be obvious that endless internet browsing, endless reading and consuming information, won’t bring you much achievement into your life.
With this behavior, you are just a consumer.
Yet, all the greats in history that Alain de Botton wrote about, were producers.
Their mind was fully focused in their research, writings… in what they were producing. Even while consuming, their mind was fully active, and not asleep or dumbed down.
If you think about it, this was fairly normal considering the information at that time. Just a couple of centuries ago the amount of books and information you had available was heavily limited.
You wanted to learn calculus, you had a couple of books. If you didn’t fully understood the author, though luck. You had to find a way to understand it. Which means employing a much more disciplined and focused mind even if you just wanted to read a book.
Now we can choose to learn calculus through over a hundred books, thousands of videos or MOOCs or websites that make it easier for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, this access to knowledge is a great thing! But downside is that the natural state is to keep being a consumer. There’s always one more piece to read or watch.
And it’s certainly A LOT easier than to actually focus your mind and think for yourself on the material that you are absorbing.
Focus and concentration is hard. No question about it.
It’s very easy to just have this consumption mindset instead of production mindset.
That’s a real danger… that we become merely consumers instead of living to our true potential.
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