Alain de Botton on distraction:
One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.
The obsession with current events is relentless:
We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties — something that, if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellows. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture — and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds.
We need to diet, he advises. And indeed, if we do not dwell on both on what is extraordinary about the ordinary and that there could be — at any moment — risk of volcanic proportions, we will go assuming that tomorrow will be just like today. Through stacks of unread books, seas of feeds, people, invitations, events, and unanswered emails, if we stand still long enough, if we listen and look, if we pause, we see that nothing is ever the same again tomorrow. And that is mostly extraordinary.