In Defense of Distraction, Article Review Example

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Article Review

In Sam Anderson’s New York Magazine article “In Defense of Distraction,” he argues that the world has hit a new epidemic of distractions where conscious thought is dwindling and being replaced by the bells and whistles of the worldwide web. His main example for this can be seen in the conversation he has with David Meyer, who he identifies as the ‘world’s reigning expert in multitasking. Anderson transitions into this conversation with Meyer by saying, “My interaction with Meyer takes place entirely via the technology of distraction (Anderson, p2).”  1. He goes on to note that the conversation had to be “scheduled and rescheduled” multiple times by e-mail. So before Anderson even demonstrates his example, he has already presented his first supporting argument or example, supporting it.  When describing his conversation Anderson says,

As Meyer and I talk, the universe tests us with a small battery of distractions. A maximum-volume fleet of emergency vehicles passes just outside my window; my phone chirps to tell us that my mother is calling on the other line, then beeps again to let us know she’s left a message. There is, occasionally, a slight delay in the connection. Meyer ignores it all, speaking deliberately and at length, managing to coordinate tricky subject-verb agreements over the course of multi-clause sentences. (Anderson, p2)

Leading up to this conversation, as well as following it the author poses numerous arguments putting the events of his interaction with Meyer as well as the concepts it implies about contemporary culture in better context. 2. The opening argument Anderson makes is that the internet is culture, he says, Google is making us stupid, multitasking is draining our souls, and the “dumbest generation” is leading us into a “dark age” of bookless “power browsing.” 3. Another statement he makes is that, “We are, in short, terminally distracted. And distracted, the alarmists will remind you, was once a synonym for insane. 4. The final punch Anderson adds in support of his position before his conversation with Meyer is to quote, Shakespeare: ‘poverty hath distracted her’ (Anderson, p1).” This is a subtle joke of how people are being distracted by the very thing that is killing them. Here Anderson sets the bar for how serious this topic should be taken, and he further supports this notion with the concept that, 5.Adopting the Internet as the hub of our work, play, and commerce has been the intellectual equivalent of adopting corn syrup as the center of our national diet, and we’ve all become mentally obese.”

When he asks Meyer is we are living through a crisis of attention, Meyer says, “Yes” and “And I think it’s going to get a lot worse than people expect (Anderson, p2).” 7. Meyers goes on to refer to the issue of online distractions influencing contemporary social interaction as a “a full-blown epidemic—a cognitive plague that has the potential to wipe out an entire generation of focused and productive thought.8. Meyers adds credibility to Anderson’s argument that distraction is a threat to consciousness, by comparing the issue to smoking cigarettes. The main hump Anderson has to overcome is the notion that social networking, something that brings so much joy to the majority of the human population actually has negative side effects. By Meyers comparing the effects of living on the internet, and its unrecognizable but gradual negative effects on the brain, to smoking cigarettes and its unrecognizable but gradual negative effects on the lungs, he validates Anderson claim. Two powerful supporting facts Anderson presents can be seen when he says, 9. One recent study found that American teenagers spend an average of 6.5 hours a day focused on the electronic world, which strikes me as a little low. 10. He points out a fact about South Korea, noting that in their country “the most wired nation on earth, young adults have actually died from exhaustion after multiday online-gaming marathons (Anderson, p1).” Anderson’s core challenges is to make the reader question the benefits of the single most utilized convenient resource in contemporary culture today. He does this by presenting a relatable real life example and then presenting supporting arguments that dissect that example for the threat it implies for global internet culture. Despite Anderson’s powerful argument against the distractions of the internet, near the end of his article in his section titled “Embracing the Poverty of Attention,” he actually defended distraction and poses some possibility some redemption pointing out that as our generation is winding down intellectually, younger generations are evolving that are better equipped to multitask on these high frequency cognitive levels.

Work Cited

Anderson, Sam. “In Defense of Distraction.” New York. 25 May 2009: n. page. Web. 18 Sep. 2012. <Anderson, Sam. “In Defense of Distraction.” New York Times. (2009): n. page. Web. 18 Sep. 2012..>

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