There are a thousand beautiful ways to start the day that don’t begin with looking at your phone. And yet so few of us choose to do so.
Craig Mod, ‘How I Got My Attention Back‘
I met Craig briefly when he came to speak at Build a few years ago – he was both incredibly accommodating, and absolutely the voice that could write this article, in this way, and not sound patronising. He’s a guy who takes the time to think things through.
(And therefore, like a few who comment underneath, I find the mental image of him being the guy who plays ten straight hours of Clash of the Clans is all the more weird.)
Anyway, the discussion in his article gets the heart of something really important – not just the desire to disconnect from the socially networked part of our society, but how fundamentally difficult it is becoming for so many of us to do so.
I dumped most of the core social media apps off my iPhone about six months ago. (At the time, I was probably felt the strongest desire to switch back to a ‘dumb phone’ I ever have, but ultimately three functions kept me clinging on: Camera, WhatsApp, and Google Calendar.) Social media is not really something I want to engage with whilst at home: I’ll occasionally flick through my Twitter and Instagram feeds on our communal iPad (which lives on top of the fridge), most often to see updates from a very select group of friends.
Leaving ‘it’ altogether would, however, be extremely difficult. In work, Facebook and WhatsApp have become integral to how we function as an organisation. I can ignore the former in particular outside of the workplace, but I literally can’t leave. And as a result, I know I am constantly battling the distraction of being ‘always on’.
Craig references this analysis by Microsoft’s Danah Boyd, who points to memes as the origin of the terminal disease which has swept Western culture, robbing us of our attention spans.
In “Gravity and Grace,” Simone Weil writes, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.” Then is the lack of attention the opposite? Does it presuppose fear and hate?
It had been a long time since my attention was mine.
He goes on to discuss some circumstances he found himself in, and reasonable rules he came up with, to help get his attention span back.
A highly recommended read.