As much as I hate to rain on your parade, I’m afraid I can’t agree at all with your premises. This article itself argues against you.

You’ve written a short article that shallowly rehashes ideas that were already long past their expiration date in the 70s, when they were being summarized in Future Shock. You cite studies that don’t support your findings, and complain about trends that are mostly imaginary. Ultimately, you’ve projected your own subjective feeling of burn-out onto the world at large, channeling it into a pastiche of what is essentially now a popular subgenre of theoretically non-fiction op-eds: the anti-internet thinkpiece.

Have you constructed a media diet for yourself that negatively impacts your life? Clearly. Is this common? Sure. Is it new? Not remotely. You’ve taken perfectly good tools and used them to cut your limbs off, and now you’re complaining that the tools are dangerous.

The only part of this article that is non-trivially correct is the part about multitasking & unfinished task cues. But, the idea that this mechanism should be used as an excuse to do some kind of internet detox is absurd. Instead, be mindful of your own cognitive biases, and take advantage of this effect as incentive to perform the tasks you intend to perform.

Easy access to information makes shallow understanding possible but does not encourage it; after all, it also makes much deeper understanding possible. If this access makes you tend toward shallowness, that’s an indication of your own intellectual laziness, not a reflection of the innate tendencies of the tools at your disposal. Practice some discipline, and these tools will help you gain more depth. (Without much discipline and with only a little foresight, it would have demonstrated to you that there is nothing original in this essay; in Medium’s daily recommendation email alone, I see three of this type a day, though they are often shorter and have fewer reviews or recommendations. You could have saved time by recommending some of those, rather than writing this yourself.)

Written by

Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net

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