If the World Is Getting Better, Why Do We All Feel So Much Worse?
Kevin Drum takes a look at the question and some possible answers.
I would add that new habits also contribute. For example, I once could get completely lost in a book, living for hours in the world it contained. Or I could watch a movie so intensely that on a Saturday afternoon I would stagger out into the daylight, as though emerging from a dream.
But now the trickle of possible and possibly interruptions is incessant through our smartphones and computers, and we find a portion of our concentration tracking the phone or computer and the time interval, when it would makes sense to browse through email, Facebook, forums, news sites, and the like. And now we generally watch movies via streaming video, which is highly interruptible, unlike movies in a theater.
The result is a loss of psychological habitat: we once had calming refuges that offered a brief period away from daily life, giving us a restorative respite and the opportunity to think about what a book or movie is telling us, and how it does that. We had the chance to turn away from the daily experience, absent ourselves a while, and then return refreshed and with a new perspective.
I imagine this is what prayer does for some, especially those who observe the admonition from Jesus that prayer be done only in private and not in front of other people. (An amazing number of so-called “Christians” seem to totally ignore what Jesus is reported to have said. I would have thought they would take it more seriously.) But I would bet that the nose of digital intrusion pokes its way there as well.