Skip to main content

Modern Technology Attention Deficit Tipping Point

I recently got back from a two and a half week trip abroad, and the comparative lack of connectivity was refreshing. I often feel that here in Silicon Valley, we're progressing ever more rapidly to a world in which no one looks up anymore, and relationships and friendships take place entirely in the unfulfilling desert of the virtual. Getting out every now and then is a good way to reset your perspective.

For instance, during the nine days I spent in Korea, I had a phone that was "merely" capable of sending text messages and making phone calls (to be fair, it was an iPhone 4, but the 3G was disabled). Knowing that you can't check your email even if you want to is glorious! I ended up checking my email once or twice a day at the hotel, and didn't miss it. The main thing I really missed was GPS. But believe it or not, it's possible to find things without it. And people tend to be helpful if you ask them for directions!

I then went to China, where G+ and Facebook are blocked. Facebook got so nervous about the sudden drop in attention I was affording it that it sent me an email informing me of all my unread notifications. Surprisingly, the world kept spinning without my attending to those notifications! Crazy but true.

Then I spent last weekend in Beijing with a group of friends who all had old-school tier-3 candy bar phones. You know what? They're way more fun to hang out with than the smartphone-wielding masses. They look up way more than their iPhoned compatriots. They don't pull out their phones to check Facebook or check-in on Foursquare in the middle of a conversation. And they seem to be generally happier people.

I wonder if we're reaching an inflection point in our technology-driven attention deficit disorder. Will we humans be able to figure out a healthy way to coexist with technology? Will it consume ever more of our attention until we live most of our lives in the hyperactive snapshot world we've created for ourselves? Or will we break out of our self-imposed chains and demand more real and less virtual? I don't know the answer, but it will certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

English Lesson: "한국에 오신지 얼마나 됐어요?"라고 영어로?

I've lost count of how many times Koreans have asked me the question, "How long do you stay in Korea?" in those words or something very similar. Clearly this question is taught in every English class in Korea, because I hear it over and over again, so I just wanted to be very clear about something here:

DO NOT USE THIS EXPRESSION. IT IS INCORRECT.

This phrase is incorrect for a few reasons, but primarily because it sounds ambiguous to native English speakers. Specifically, there are probably two different questions that you really want to ask:

1) How long have you been in Korea? (한국에 오신지 얼마나 됐어요?)
2) How long will you stay in Korea? (한국에 얼마나 있을 거예요?/한국에 얼마동안 있을 계획이에요?)

Nearly always the intended question is number 1, "How long have you been in Korea?", followed afterwards by number 2, "How long will you stay in Korea?". But the incorrectly stated question ambiguously sounds somewhere in between number 1 and number 2. So, don't ever use it again. T…

Stuttering in Korea

I had given up on English. It's my native language, but I figured after 30 some-odd years of disfluent speech, it was time to try something else. So I signed up for language classes in Korean, rationalizing that if I was going to try to teach myself how to speak, I might as well learn a new language along the way.

This might seem completely insane, but when the prevailing theme of your conscious thoughts for multiple decades is some variant of "Why can't I say what I want to say?", you come up with lots of crazy ideas.

For background, I've been a person who stutters for my entire life. I wrote about it on this blog a few years ago, so I think it's time for a followup. I've learned a lot since then, about myself and about stuttering, but in this post I simply want to give some insight into what it's actually like to stutter, and how my speech has changed over time.

After the last stuttering post, the predominant reaction I got from friends was either &…

Why Korean Is Hard For Native English Speakers

A couple of days ago, as an experiment, I wrote my first blog post ever in a non-English language. It was an attempt to explain some of the reasons that Korean is hard to learn for native English speakers, so I figured I might as well try to write it in Korean. Those of you who actually read Korean can see how awkward the attempt was =).

In any case, the post came from an email conversation I had with The Korean from Ask a Korean, a fantastically well-written blog about all things Korea from the perspective of a Korean who moved to the United States during high school. Since I tend to geek out on language things, I figured I might as well post part of that conversation. An edited version follows.

---------

Out of the languages that I've attempted to learn so far, Korean has been the hardest. I've done a lot of meta thinking about learning Korean, and I think there are a number of reasons it's difficult for non-Koreans (and especially Westerners) to learn:

1) Obviously, the…