On Distractions

Medieval monks had a terrible time concentrating. And concentration was their lifelong work! Their tech was obviously different from ours. But their anxiety about distraction was not. They complained about being overloaded with information, and about how, even once you finally settled on something to read, it was easy to get bored and turn to something else. They were frustrated by their desire to stare out of the window, or to constantly check on the time (in their case, with the Sun as their clock), or to think about food or sex when they were supposed to be thinking about God. They even worried about getting distracted in their dreams... John Cassian, whose thoughts about thinking influenced centuries of monks, knew this problem all too well... That was in the late 420s. If John Cassian had seen a smartphone, he’d have forecasted our cognitive crisis in a heartbeat.

Jamie Kreiner, “How to Reduce Digital Distractions: Advice from Medieval Monks” - aeon.co/ideas/how-to-reduce-digital-distractions-advice-from-medieval-monks