The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Some articles open with a whimper, some with a bang. This one is in the latter camp:

Busy, distracted, inattentive? Everybody has been since at least 1710 and here are the philosophers to prove it

It’s an interesting read, where the author, Frank Furedi, is looking at the past in an attempt to address the concerns of the present. Concerns regarding attention, or the lack thereof. And he claims we’re not dealing with anything new, but with an issue that has been around for 300 years.

Those who suffer this debilitating condition have a particular name for the state of their feelings: ‘they have the fidgets’

What I find interesting is how he associates the problem of inattention with morality. And has plenty of sources who do the same. But is this truly a moral issue? Or an issue of inability?

One might argue that it’s not an issue at all, that a state of (nearly) permanent distraction is just a reality of the times and not a problem. Regular readers of this newsletter will know where I fall on this matter; our best work, of any type, is accomplished with focus. But is it an issue of morality or inability? Perhaps a mixture of both. I know one thing: the less you say “no” to yourself, the harder it is to achieve discipline.

How can one choose in any given moment to do the more important thing when new stimulus presents itself if we never practice self-discipline? And living in an age and culture where giving in to your desires is promoted around every corner, it’s no wonder we’re all struggling with the small, daily choices to cultivate good habits.