Why is it getting harder and harder to concentrate?

"Johann Hari, author of "Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention" searched the world for answers to the problem, and researching alongside scientists and experts he discovered that everything we think we know about it is wrong."
Por Clarisa Benavides
Aug 3, 2022

Currently there is a crisis in the whole world, this is the inability to maintain attention. In US universities, students can only concentrate on a task for approximately 65 seconds, and office workers an average of three minutes.

Johann Hari, author of “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention” searched the world for answers to the problem, and researching alongside scientists and experts he discovered that everything we think we know about it is wrong.

Hari denies that the inability to concentrate is a “personal fault” or a defect, and also establishes that it is caused by external forces. Among them, there are twelve profound cases of this crisis that have stolen part of our attention.

It explains how through a trip he learned how to hack human attention, how veterinarians diagnose ADHD in dogs; how in Rio de Janeiro an entire population lost its attention in a surreal way, and techniques used in New Zealand offices to restore the attention of their workers. But, the most important thing he learned was how individuals and society can get our attention back.

Johann Hari is the author of three New York Times bestselling books, executive producer of an Oscar-nominated film, and a television series.

His first first book, “Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs”, was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film “The United States Vs Billie Holiday”; while his second book, ‘Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression-and the Unexpected Solutions’ is regarded by the British Journal of General Practice as ‘one of the most important texts of recent years’.

The author has dedicated himself to writing for newspapers and magazines such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Spectator, Le Monde Diplomatique, Sydney Morning Herald and Politico; he has given several TED talks, and has appeared on NPR’s All Thing Considered, HBO’s Realtime With Bill Maher, The Joe Rogan Podcast, BBC’s Question Time, etc.

His book has been widely recognized, and among the accolades it has received, Oprah believes that:

“this book is exactly what the world needs right now… I hope everyone buys the book. I promise you it will be worth your time and certainly your attention.”

Likewise, Stephen Fry commented that “Stolen Focus is a beautifully researched and argued exploration of the collapse of humanity’s attention span. It is a story that many of us have felt needs to be told, but whose cause and consequences are difficult to grasp and articulate without guesswork, bias, or ideology.”

By discussing how technology and modernity are not only negatively and chronically affecting our brains and behavior, but also limiting our options and personal notions of freedom and conscience, it makes us reflect and consider this lost focus as a crucial problem today. day.

Among the numerous causes of inattention, two categories are considered: too much and too little.

Too much information, stress, vigilance, manipulation, ADHD diagnoses. Not getting enough sleep, reading novels, and eating nutritious food. However, algorithms and technology are not declared the only culprits, since information overload has been creeping in for some time and affecting our concentration.

The research carried out by Hari is extensive and spends a lot of time talking about the proliferation of ADHD diagnoses, as well as issues related to sleep. However, it does not address current problems, or consider whether we are sleeping less than before. Especially since it began the pandemic, taking us to the blind spot of the book, apparently to have been written largely in the old days. Therefore, he does not address the feeling of being dazed by the Zoom, which has been a contribution to the feeling of not having concentration.

In short, we must be more aware, critical and better at concentrating in conditions of extreme distraction. So, this book can be widely useful in winning the war on distraction.


Hari, J. (2021). Retrieved from https://stolenfocusbook.com/

O’Neil, C. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/books/review/stolen-focus-johann-hari-the-loop-jacob-ward.html

Clarisa Benavides

Clarisa Benavides

Science & Technology writer in The Bookish Man.
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