06/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Benefits Of Distraction And Overstimulation

Over the last several years, the problem of attention has migrated right into the center of our cultural attention. We hunt it in neurology labs, lament its decline on op-ed pages, fetishize it in grassroots quality-of-life movements, diagnose its absence in more and more of our children every year, cultivate it in yoga class twice a week, harness it as the engine of self-help empires, and pump it up to superhuman levels with drugs originally intended to treat Alzheimer's and narcolepsy. Everyone still pays some form of attention all the time, of course--it's basically impossible for humans not to--but the currency in which we pay it, and the goods we get in exchange, have changed dramatically.

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