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The Deterioration of Our Attention

Aaron McHugh

Hey friends,
I’m reading a new book by my friend John about getting our life back in a world gone mad, and he had this phrase I want to share with you, the noticeable deterioration of their attention. He’s referring to the harm to our culture, our brains, and our inability to stay engaged and focused on the things that matter in life. 

I ran into two friends this weekend who said, “Hey, I’ve not heard from you in a while.” and it got me thinking that I should share with you a few ideas I’ve been pondering. 

I’ve purposefully stayed off social media in 2019, did not post new blogs and podcast episodes so that I could finish my new book that is releasing January 14th 2020 (pre-order available now).  Shout out to Greg McKeown’s Less But Better mantra.

What happened during this process is my life got a lot quieter, and I witnessed my ability to focus on things that are important to me increased.

Earlier this year, I heard John say, “Our attention is the last frontier,” meaning that in our digital age, our attention is the highest commodity or remaining real estate on the planet. Give that a minute to settle in. What might appear to be for our benefit, connecting with old friends, sharing photos with family members, is also a very calculated business aimed at creating unrest in us resolved by buying something with a click or a swipe. 

Attention and Intention

Wow-kinda heavy I know for a Sunday morning, and as I said, I wanted to reflect on what I’m learning from my digital reprieve. I received an email a few weeks back from a guy who I love his work, and he was announcing their 999th podcast episode in under three years “every day for 999 days”. My honest response was sadness. Sadness for the audience who crowds their every waking minute with podcasts and posts and sorrow for their team and the imagined weariness they must be experiencing from going that hard for that long. 

Where is all this headed? Friends, what do you give your attention to? How much of your attention do you give away focused on things that are fleeting and unhelpful in creating a life you want to experience? I’ve learned a lot these past two years on these two words of “attention” and “intention.” 

So here’s my push. 

Go analog with me

Yep, I’m going to run an experiment, in 2020 to coincide with my book release, I am starting an old-school snail mail newsletter sent to your mailbox (the kind that’s attached to your house or the one you drive to once a week in your neighborhood). Why? I have a few things I’d like to share with you, but I want these ideas to live in physical form and be experienced in our real lives, not just the digital world. Say no more-sign me up. 

I’m not saying I won’t create new podcasts/blogs or write digital updates. What I am saying is I’d like to give you an excuse to slow down, sip a cup of coffee or tea, and read a letter from a friend. Remember what that was like? Or maybe some of you have never experienced it. Let’s reclaim a bit of a bygone era together and build in more human connection. 

Invite me to your town in 2020

As part of going analog in 2020, I want to come to your town and share my book with you and your friends. I envision an old school conversation about ideas and we react to them together over a meal, at a bookstore and maybe even in your home. I don’t have a plan, just a sense of what impact this type of experience could create for us together. Send me an email if that’s interesting. No promises that I can make them all work, but let’s see where this might go.

Keep going, 
Aaron

*John’s new book is here.

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