Our Devices Are Stealing Our Attention

People talking on their cellphone

Whenever I go out, I can’t help but notice how so many people are looking at some kind of screen all around me. What are ‘screens’ you ask? They could be anything — a mobile phone, a TV, a tablet, a digital billboard, or a display screen at a railway station. All of them designed to steal your attention.

I have exchanged an email or two over this concept with Vijayandra Mohanty (do mankind a favour and go read his wildly popular Ravanayan series of comics). I reasoned with him that if you strip most personal entertainment devices to their bare minimum all most of them have in common are their glass screens.

Over the last few weeks, I have caught myself looking out for these screens everywhere I go. Standing in a train for a while, I need to check if I have any notifications or email from the office. Out dining with friends? Need to check the score of that soccer match playing on the telly at the far side of the room. The instances are never ending. I have even caught myself hunting these screens down when I feel I have become digitally deprived.

The crazy thing is that constantly looking at these screens is a self-reinforcing habit and every time you look out for these screens you are making the habit stronger and stronger. Very soon, you find yourself tweeting a movie and checking-in on foursquare everywhere you go. I confess to doing both — rabidly.

I have since consciously started becoming aware of the urge to look at screens. To stop them from stealing my attention over what I am doing at the moment. Today, I saw this video on the internet and I hope it can inspire you to make some positive changes to your life too:

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