Is There a Cure for the 'Distraction Virus'?: Page 2

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3. Productivity means nothing if time gained is squandered. Wonderful productivity blogs like Lifehacker, 43 Folders, Web Worker Daily, Get Rich Slowly, Zen Habits and others serve to transmit productivity ideas to those who care. But what good is productivity if time saved ends up being squandered on pointless distractions? For every five minutes we save on some new productivity technique, we need to figure out how to spend that five minutes productively or meaningfully or we’ve gained nothing.

4. We need to evolve our personal methods for coping with distraction, or the distractions win. Think of how distracting the Internet was 15 years ago -– in 1993 -– compared to now. (The answer: Not very.) Now try to imagine how distracting it will be 15 years from now. Each new Web 2.0 site, social network and video streaming site represents another assault on our ability to focus on productive work. How compelling, addictive and distracting will the Web 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 be? The techniques you succeed with today may not be good enough for tomorrow. We need to evolve constantly.

5. The individual, the company, the nation that is best at avoiding distractions in the future will have an enormous advantage in the competitive marketplace. Think about the obesity problem. A century ago, America had the world’s healthiest population, tallest people and best food. Fast forward to today. The quality of food has declined as the quantity has increased. Now 60 percent of Americans are overweight, and a quarter clinically obese. And low-quality food is also making us shorter. What happened?

The marketing of food -– advertising, packaging, brand development -– evolved like a virus. Our food-industrial complex learned to seduce us into radical over-consumption. This evolution outpaced our defenses against it. Kids are addicted to sugar, artificial flavors and junk-food brands before they’re even old enough to ride a bike. Adults compulsively consume packaged, processed foods despite daily warnings in the news about their ill effects. The junk food virus is literally killing us.

Is this where Internet distractions are taking us? Is there an intellectual or mental “obesity epidemic” on the horizon? Are we there already?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’ve got a bad feeling that the evolving online distraction virus is an underappreciated threat that nobody is really dealing with.

Is there a cure? Probably not. But the first step -– as with any addiction -– is to recognized that we’ve got a problem.


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