How do we define reading? If we asked that question decades ago, anyone would say it is the study and consumption of a physical book. In the modern age, the average person doesn’t read many books anymore. Instead, they peruse more abstract avatars of information on tablets, computers, and iPhones. The way we read has transitioned as we entered the 21st century. Hard and soft cover books are viewed as traditional, while digital ebooks are the norm.
While ebooks are faster, more convenient, and cheaper to produce, they are a drastic shift in how our eyes and brain absorb information. Humans are still new to this change, and the effects of staring at a blue screen translate data differently than a paper page does. Further, the average attention span has shortened to around 8 seconds since the fast advent of digital tech. Short messages crowd online media and people want the facts ASAP, rather than slogging through at a traditional pace.
5 ways to remain focused in our busy world of technology:
- Stay hydrated – Our bodies run on water and the added electrolytes help the body process the information we absorb. Most people require half their body weight in ounces every day (I find that drinking 12 to 16 cups a day works for me). Get a Brita filter if you can.
- Exercise – The act of exercise stimulates our circulation, allowing new blood into the brain and better cognition.
- Monitor and limit too much EMF exposure (if possible; we’re all guilty of this to some extent) – Too much information can be a bad thing, especially if presented on a screen. Try taking breaks or parsing out your digital time. A good rule of thumb is once every 20 to 60 minutes–stand up, stretch, and stare out the window for at least a minute. Take a walk if you have to.
- Meditate – Long known for its positive influence on focus, meditation is an ancient remedy for a distressed and burdened mind. Even small bouts of 10 to 15 minutes may prove helpful. Your mileage may vary.
- Mindfulness – This goes hand-in-hand with meditation, as mindfulness keeps us in the present moment. You can do this even when not meditating. Simply stay in the current environment and don’t let your thoughts wander. Unfortunately, it’s harder than it sounds, trust me.
Are we losing the ability to read and focus in the traditional sense? Or is this a stepping stone in human evolution for the better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!