If you follow me on social media you may have noticed that in the last few months I've been conspicuous by my absence, or at least a much lesser presence.
The reason for this is that I realised, with something of a shock, that I was finding it very difficult to read. Either I'd lose concentration after about three minutes, and start checking Twitter or email, or making a list of 'urgent' things I had to do there and then, or I'd find myself skipping entire paragraphs and having to go back and (re)read them.
I love reading, I'm an avid reader, so this state of affairs was no good. I decided to do the following:
First, I limited, and still limit, the amount of time I spend on social media. Generally, just a few minutes a day.
Secondly, I changed the balance of reading from mainly digital (on a computer or Kindle), to mainly paper, that is, 'proper' books.
Thirdly, I made a conscious -- some would say "mindful" -- effort to read each paragraph. It's possible to skim read -- I do so a great deal -- but approached properly that means looking for key words and phrases, not omitting whole chunks.
I'm happy to say that my reading is back on track now, even when reading digitally, and my concentration is back to normal.
Interestingly, while thinking about this, I came across a term I'd not heard of before: disconnectionism. It refers to the act of disconnecting from the connected world. I have to say, some are rather more extreme, both in their philosophy and implementation, than I was.
It makes for interesting reading, though, and I've found three articles on the subject that you might enjoy reading.
I have to warn you though: they are all online.
Mirrorworld — would this mean no escape at all from the digital world?
Reading in the age of constant distraction — an interesting account of a writer’s predictions, made in 1994
An earlier version of this article appeared in the November 2019 issue of my newsletter, Digital Education.