Don’t listen to Johann Hari to help your attention span

In 1887, Friedrich Nietzsche made a complaint about the modern world, writing in The Gay Science: Even now one is ashamed of resting, and prolonged reflection almost gives one a bad conscience. One thinks with a watch in one’s hand, even as one eats one’s midday meal while reading the latest news on the stock market; one lives as if one always ‘might miss out on something’. Johann Hari’s Stolen Focus rehearses this complaint. We fill our lives with distractions, he says, and have no time to think. He adds a few new problems, though they’re also pretty familiar: we are constantly on our phones; social media is bad for