The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World


social attention epidemic

social attention epidemic

This eye-catching title from an interview with Linda Stone was published in The Atlantic magazine. Linda Stone, previous high-tech advisor to Apple and Microsoft, was interviewed by James Fallows to learn more about her take on “…the challenges of living in an always-on, hyperconnected world.”

Vision’s role in establishing a connection with our social environment is now a laboratory science as well as a clinical discipline, a discipline within Developmental Optometry. The discovery of Mirror Neurons (clearly associated with eye-contact) and their possible role surrounding the epidemic we are experiencing with autism, is a hot topic in cognitive neuroscience.

Linda Stone coined the term continuous partial attention. She called this “…the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything.”

Our child's future?

Our child’s future?

Her insights are especially important for parents. She writes, “Adults model attention and communication strategies, and children imitate.” If parents find that being in eye-contact with their cell phone to be more important than being in eye-contact with their child, the child will not see the importance of eye-contact at all. Eye-contact is that critically important, neurobiological and social foundation for empathy.

James Fallows suggests that this “…sounds like society-wide autism.” Linda Stone follows with “It ultimately can feed the development of a kind of sociopathy and psychopathy.” Fortunately, the Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World can be developed with the help of Developmental Vision Training.

Carl G. Hillier, OD FCOVD

4 thoughts on “The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World

  1. Thank you Carl for giving voice to an ever increasing problem. It is very disconcerting to be in an elevator, a train, a check out line in the grocery, etc, and have all around you the click click click of texting and/or the one sided phone conversation with details one truly does not wish to hear. As a society we need to re-learn the skills of interacting on a personal and professional level.

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