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February 7, 2022 64 min

Sean Illing talks with the author Johann Hari about his new book Stolen Focus, which explores what's happening — and what's already happened — to our attention. They discuss how exactly Big Tech "stole" our ability to focus, what many leading scientists say about how we are psychologically and physiologically changed by the powerful new draws on our attention, and whether or not we need an "attention rebellion" to fight back against the tech giants, whose business models depend on us getting easily distracted.

Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox

Guest: Johann Hari (@johannhari101), author


  • Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention — and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari (Crown; 2022)
  • Companion site with audio excerpts from interviews with experts and additional endnotes:
  • Getting Ahead of ADHD by Joel T. Nigg (Guilford; 2017)
  • "Capitalism is turning us into addicts" by Sean Illing, interviewing David T, Courtwright (Vox; Apr. 18, 2020)
  • Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan (1964)
  • "Enhancing attention through training" by Michael Posner, et al. (Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences (4); 2015)
  • "Facebook and texting made me do it: Media-induced task-switching while studying" by Larry Rosen, et al. (Computers in Human Behavior, 29 (3); 2013)
  • "Accelerating dynamics of collective attention" by Sune Lehmann, et al. (Nature Communications; 2019)

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    This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Editor: Amy Drozdowska
  • Engineer: Paul Robert Mounsey
  • Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall
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