The average teenager can only focus on a task for 65 seconds. For office workers the average is three minutes. Why are we so distracted? Johann Hari has spent the last three years investigating this question and seeking to uncover the reasons that our attention spans have deteriorated so dramatically.
Hari believes our attention has been chipped away by the forces that surround us. Processed foods mangle our brains. Ever more sophisticated algorithms demand our attention online. A whole architecture has been built around us, Hari argues, that makes it ever harder for us to focus. The research for his new book, Stolen Focus, took him from a favela in Rio de Janeiro where attention has almost vanished to an office in New Zealand where workers have found a remarkable way to restore it. In January 2022, Hari came to Intelligence Squared to share his insights. He was joined in conversation by playwright and writer V (formerly known as Eve Ensler).