Continuous Partial Attention

September 29, 2018
by Matthew Ruttan

We live in the Information Age. There are some positive things about that, but there are some negative things, too.

Linda Stone, a former senior executive with Apple and Microsoft, coined the phrase "continuous partial attention". She writes that we're "much more motivated by not wanting to miss anything … . We want to be part of this broader set of connections that are out there. And the unfortunate cost of that … is when you're on top of everything, it's hard to get to the bottom of anything."

So, when we try to stay plugged in to everything that's going on, we end up with a lack of sustained connection. That can undermine the depth of our attention spans and even the depth of our relationships.

It matters because getting to know and love people matters. A life spent loving God is a life spent loving the people that God loves. That's very hard to do when we're spinning around in a whirlpool of data and distraction. If we really want to connect and care for others, then we need to take the time to listen to them, to get to know them, and to be a godly presence in their lives.

Jesus says, "Do to others as you would like them to do to you." (Luke 6:31 NLT) If you want others to get to know you and take your life seriously, don't you think others want the same?

In the Information Age, continuous partial attention threatens this possibility. It can undermine the depth of our attention spans and even the depth of our relationships. Let's not let that happen.

A life spent loving God is a life spent loving the people that God loves.

Prayer: Lord, help us to resist the distractions of our age so that we can truly connect with and love our neighbours. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Matthew Ruttan <matthew@matthewruttan.com>
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Send your feedback to the author

Forward This Devotional to your friends without subscribing them.

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    May it be so, Matthew.


    I will have to share this with the girls.


    Thanks for sharing this devotional with us, Matthew. Blessings.


    So true. Brain research shows that multitasking, except with certain automatic actions, is not effective. People think they can, but they’re really just constantly switching from one task to another, doing none of them well.


    An excellent reminder of just how easy it is to lose our focus on what is really important – loving God and loving people.
    We truly do need to guard against being so easily distracted. Thanks Matt!!


    Thanks Matthew!!
    I really appreciated your word today. I am guilty!
    I’m sure glad we have a forgiving God, and One who will help us change!
    Thanks again!
    God bless you.


    Greetings Matthew,
    Very good devotional. Yes, today with all the distraction of technology it is sometimes difficult to keep the attention of someone. So many constantly have a cell phone in their hand and their eyes keep glancing at the screen every few moments. It seems difficult to have a good conversation with them but important that we continue to reach out and communicate the love God has for His people.
    Blessings.
    (B.C.)


    Our daughter had been out with some women and they were all complaining about this modern technology invading their lives. Then she stops and I am telling her how wonderful technology is.
    We were part of a wedding half way around the world while sitting on our couch. We have known the groom since he was one yr old. We think it amazing 12 hours time difference and 30 hours by plane and at an instant through facebook messenger.
    Just amazing.
    So our daughter had to tell me about the grumbling she had just heard. She said the next time I will tell them the good and amazing side that her old parents over 80 were experiencing.
    It is amazing to be able to communicate with strong Christian people that would phone me and ask for prayers for the bride who is still not here and became very ill. Her background is communist or nothing and her sister is praying with the bride and said telling her how to pray. My friend the groom has become stronger in his faith due to the sister. All amazing to us.
    (ON)

Switch to our mobile site