The Distraction Addiction  by Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The Distraction Addiction by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang functions as more than your usual how-to guide, as it interweaves Buddhist thought, a history of technological changes and their effects, and even amusing anecdotes.  Pang is a futurist, and his insight on how to make tech work for the user comes from his own trial-and-error as well as learnings from prominent tech minds.    The book covers 8 guiding principles on how to better utilize tech such that distractions become less an issue in frequency and impact.  I found many of his musings to be both interesting and useful.  His work is widely applicable, and has clear benefits to the physician who is juggling work emails, personal calls/texts, and the constant flux of patient messages and reminders.  In particular, I found his work around “email apnea,” a term I had never heard before, resonated and provided me with my first personal goal for reducing the impact of distractions.  Concepts like the “monkey mind” and “digital Sabbath” are explored and conclusions are both practically and insightfully drawn.  He also compares and contrasts multitasking and switch tasking, and describes wonderfully the concept of “flow” and how it relates to our daily digital lives.  I recommend this thoughtful, informative, and entertaining book to my colleagues who are tired of tech’s assault on our senses and are wishing for a return to more contemplative, simpler use.

Book Review by Neel Doshi, MD

Kaiser Permanente Orange County

Department of Psychiatry