The Moment I Knew: We Have a Focus Problem

Late for a meeting and snarled in bad traffic, I found myself texting while driving. “I’m on my way,” was the urgent message.

For a second or two, while typing that text, I was oblivious to the cars around me.

And then I thought, “Oh, no.”

Days before I had read one of the first studies showing that texting increases the risk of an accident as much as driving drunk. Just a few months later my state outlawed texting while driving.

That’s when I knew in my gut that our attention is under siege.

As I started to monitor attention itself, I noticed the signs of this mental incursion everywhere: the couple at a romantic restaurant staring at their phones instead into each other’s eyes, the meetings where people clandestinely check for texts or roam the web, the tweens at the bus stop checking updates on Facebook instead of talking with each other.

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