Stolen Focus

Johann Hari

Stolen Focus



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We are currently in the midst of an alarming attention crisis. We often think that our inability to concentrate is down to our own lack of willpower, but we are actually victims of an entire system that has been designed to ‘steal’ our focus for its own profit. Our diminished attention span has intellectual consequences and also affects our productivity. Luckily, awareness around the issue is increasing, and author Johann Hari explains that we are capable of rebuilding our attention span, both as individuals and as a society, as long as we are truly determined to fight for it.

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Analysis and key concepts


The internet has significantly accelerated the way we receive information, but our brains are physically unable to keep up and our ability to focus is decreasing


We are unable to disconnect from social media, not because of a lack of willpower, but because social platforms are designed to be addictive and to fuel ‘surveillance capitalism’


Platforms can be a positive tool, strengthening communities and driving collective action, but they can also divide, and algorithms prioritise outrage over community building


In order to regain focus, we have to stop multitasking and try to achieve a state of ‘flow’


The first step in regaining focus is to disable notifications from social media apps




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Discover how and why we have lost our ability to concentrate, and how to get it back.
  • Learn how social media is designed to diminish our concentration.
  • Understand why we should stop multitasking and start focusing on achieving a state of ‘flow’.

Johann Eduard Hari is a British journalist and speaker. His studies focus on the issues of depression, the war on drugs, and the impact of new information technologies on society. He has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Huffington Post and The Independent and his books, Lost Connections, Chasing the Scream, and Stolen Focus, have won international recognition, and praise from writers such as Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. He is also a television and film producer, working with Samuel L. Jackson, among others, and was nominated for an Oscar.

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