Alex Pang’s amusing new book The Distraction Addiction addresses those of us who feel panic without a cellphone or computer. And that, he claims, is pretty much all of us. When we’re not online, where we spend four months annually, we’re engaged in the stressful work of trying to get online.
The Distraction Addiction is not framed as a self-help book. It’s a thoughtful examination of the danger of our computing overdose and a historical overview of how technological advances change consciousness. A “professional futurist”, Pang urges an approach which he calls “contemplative computing.” He asks that you pay full attention to “how your mind and body interact with computers and how your attention and creativity are influenced by technology.”
Pang’s first job is to free you from common misconception that doing two things at once allows you to get more done. What is commonly called multitasking is, in fact, switch-tasking, and its harmful effects on productivity are well documented. Pang doesn’t advocate returning to a pre-Internet world. Instead, he asks you to “take a more ecological view of your relationships with technologies and look for ways devices or media may be making specific tasks easier or faster but at the same time making your work and life harder.”
The Distraction Addiction is particularly fascinating on how technologies have changed certain field of labor — often for the worse. For architects, computer-aided design has become essential but in some ways has cheapened the design process. As one architect puts it, “Architecture is first and foremost about thinking...and drawing is a more productive way of thinking” than computer-aided design. Somewhat less amusing are Pang’s solutions for kicking the Internet habit. He recommends the usual behavior-modification approaches, familiar to anyone who has completed a quit-smoking program. Keep logs to study your online profile and decide what you can knock out, download a program like Freedom that locks you out of your browser, or take a “digital Sabbath”. “Unless you’re a reporter or emergency-department doctor, you’ll discover that your world doesn’t fall apart when you go offline.”
1. Alex Pang’s new book is aimed for readers who ______.
A. find their work online too stressful
B. go online mainly for entertainment
C. are fearful about using the cellphone or computer
D. can hardly tear themselves away from the Internet
2. What does Alex Pang try to do in his new book?
A. Offer advice on how to use the Internet effectively.
B. Warn people of the possible dangers of Internet use.
C. Predict the trend of future technological development.
D. Examine the influence of technology on the human mind.
3. What is the common view on multitasking?
A. It enables people to work more efficiently.
B. It is in a way quite similar to switch-tasking.
C. It makes people’s work and life even harder.
D. It distracts people’s attention from useful work.
4. What does the author think of computer-aided design?
A. It considerably cuts down the cost of building design.
B. It somewhat restrains architects’ productive thinking.
C. It is indispensable in architects’ work process.
D. It can free architects from laborious drawing.
5. What is Alex Pang’s recommendation for Internet users?
A. They use the Internet as little as possible.
B. They keep a record of their computer use time.
C. They exercise self-control over their time online.
D. They entertain themselves online on off-days only.