Are You Studying or Skimming?

I’ve been thinking about a number of things since reading The Next Story, but perhaps the biggest issue for me continues to be distraction. Distraction is everywhere. As I’m typing this message, my email is open, I’ve got a number of additional tab open in Safari and I’m sure my iPhone is somewhere reasonably close by.

But do these things help me actually get anything done? Should a relatively simple blog post sometimes take all night to do—merely because I get sidetracked watching a video on YouTube or reading another blog or checking out something my wife wants me to look at? (And as any good husband will tell you, the only one I should answer “yes” to is that last one, just in case you were wondering.)

One of the things that really caught my attention, though was in this passage (note especially the highlighted portion):

All of this distraction is reshaping us in two dangerous ways. First, we are tempted to forsake quality for quantity, believing the lie that virtue comes through speed, productivity, and efficiency. We think that more must be better, and so we drive ourselves to do more, accomplish more, be more. And second, as this happens, we lose our ability to engage in deeper ways of thinking—concentrated, focused thought that requires time and cannot be rushed. Instead of focusing our efforts in a few directions, we give scant attention to many things, skimming instead of studying. We live rushed lives and forget how to move slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully through life. (The Next Story, p. 119, emphasis added)

Because I do read a lot and there are a great number of books that are either sitting in my Kindle app, on my nightstand, dining table or coffee table (or mantle or…). Unfortunately, because there are so here, it sometimes can feel pretty daunting—and at times almost like I don’t have time to read as deeply as I want to with so much that I “have” to get to.

I know it’s just me being ridiculous, but am I the only one that feels this way?

How are you, in this digital age, with so much choice and so many distractions available to you protecting yourself from information overload? Are you taking the time you need to study or are you only skimming?

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  • http://www.craighurst.wordpress.com Churst555

    I just read this chapter this morning. I gives me a much better understanding as to why so many kids today dont like school and are disinterested in church and reading their Bibles. I realized also that a lot of contemporary Christian books on Bible reading are geared to this sort of short reading time.

    Right now I don’t have an eReader and I don’t know when I ever will. I would like one but I love print too much! I’m only 29 so I don’t think I fit the mold of the average twenty something when it comes to reading and technology. I get print books into my kids hands everyday as I want them to be shaped by that more than technology if I can. I know I can’t keep myself or my kids from technology as it is necessary to function in today’s world and it can be used in a God glorifying way. However, I want to give them a balance.

    This book has been so good to read so far and has given me clarity on some things I have been thinking already and answers I didn’t have yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.whitten2 James Whitten

    I’m 23, and I would say I’m on the edge of the digital age. I grew up reading books for recreation but I also played video games and used computers. At this very moment I have at least 5 books laying around that I have yet to finish that are overwhelming me to some degree. It’s getting increasingly hard for me to pay extended attention to critical thought. I’m a student so I read consistently throughout the school year, but I get everything done at school in the library where the distractions are minimal (I don’t take my laptop with me if possible). When I read of my personal hero’s such as Whitefield, Calvin, Edwards etc. I am overwhelmed by their discipline. These are strange days we live in. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.whitten2 James Whitten

    I’m 23, and I would say I’m on the edge of the digital age. I grew up reading books for recreation but I also played video games and used computers. At this very moment I have at least 5 books laying around that I have yet to finish that are overwhelming me to some degree. It’s getting increasingly hard for me to pay extended attention to critical thought. I’m a student so I read consistently throughout the school year, but I get everything done at school in the library where the distractions are minimal (I don’t take my laptop with me if possible). When I read of my personal hero’s such as Whitefield, Calvin, Edwards etc. I am overwhelmed by their discipline. These are strange days we live in. 

  • http://twitter.com/kmf Karl Fischer

    You’re killing me softly … this is a very challenging post …

    I hate Notifications … I hate them … my phone is always on Silent … on my Mac … I make sure apps that use Growl is disabled … I’m the most productive on my Linux workstation :)

    I check mail 2 a day, but still I get distracted by posts on Twitter that challenge me ;)

  • http://nwbingham.com Nathan W. Bingham

    A helpful (and painful) challenge. Thanks Aaron.

  • Helen P

    Yes!! This is me… Absolutely skimming my way through life! If anything is longer than a sentence i anticipate the rest and often leave it to move to the next thing… Terrible practice and one which has gotten me into much trouble! In fact i only skimmed this post so who knows if i’m even responding to the right thing…

  • Ron Reffett

    Hey there Aaron, I am totally distracted in this age that we are living in. I find myself spending less quality time reading and trying to fit more quantity. I totally resonate with you here. I also found your comment about the many books all over the place quite funny since it sounds very similar to my house! 
    Blessings 
    Ron Reffett 

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