Continuous partial attention

We live in the information age. And there are some positive things about that.

But there are some negative things too.

Linda Stone, a former senior executive with Apple, coined the phrase “continuous partial attention.” She writes that we’re “much more motivated by not wanting to miss anything… we want to be part of this broader set of connections that are out there. And the unfortunate cost of that… is when you’re on top of everything, it’s hard to get to the bottom of anything.”

So when we try to stay plugged in to everything that’s going on we end up with a lack of sustained connection. And that can undermine the depth of our attention spans and even the depth of our relationships.

It matters because getting to know and love people matters. A life spent loving God is a life spent loving the people God loves. And that’s very hard to do when we’re spinning around in a whirlpool of data and distraction. If we want to really connect and care for others, we need to take the time to listen to them, get to know them, and be a godly presence in their lives.

In Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” If you want others to get to know you and take your life seriously, don’t you think others want the same?

In the information age, “continuous partial attention” threatens this possibility. It can undermine the depth of our attention spans and even the depth of our relationships. Let’s not let that happen.

A life spent loving God is a life spent loving the people God loves. 

By Matthew Ruttan

-Today’s “Up!” is connected to my Sunday podcast at Westminster. It was Part 1 in a mini-series called “Common Bond: The collapse of community in a consumer world and the call of community in Christ’s.” The message is “Like Muscles To Your Flesh” and you can listen in here. Enjoy!

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