Attention over the Internet — attention can be active or passive, and may be focused on the inner, middle or distant circles.
Active and passive attention — attention can be divided into two types: active, which involves will power, and passive, when a person is attracted by interesting objects involuntary.
Attention is one of the few life processes which can be controlled. This statement may seem an oversimplification of life processes, but on second thoughts it doesn’t appear to be far-fetched: you cannot control your heart rhythm, but you’re capable of turning your attention from the book to the window. Even breathing process runs automatically, without thinking. And to regulate the rate and depth of breathing, you need to focus on it. It is through shifting the focus from one object to another you manage your life.
Understanding attention mechanism and insight into how to control it acquire importance in the era of information glut. Psychologists of the West unanimously claim that today human loses the concentration skills and gets used to multitasking.
Working with attention is a core of the pedagogical management, acting techniques, meditation and relaxation.
Active and passive attention
Konstantin Ushinsky, the founder of scientific pedagogy in Russia, said that power over attention plays a big role in the mental development and in practical life. According to Ushinsky, there are two types of attention: active and passive.
Active attention differs from the passive to the fact that choosing an object involves our conscious effort, regardless of whether this object is attractive for us or not. Active attention is indispensable for concentration at work and learning.
Passive attention is an attention to interesting things. In this case, the interest is stirred up by the captivating features of the object. Information that entertains us, be it a swiftly changing video footage or video game — everything that involuntarily captures us — involves passive attention. Passive attention is not enough to delve into and grasp the object.
Konstantin Ushinsky writes, “Passive attention can turn into a painful state of soul, which becomes kind of a feeble, idle, and unable to do without constant stimulation with fascinating stories or absorbing reading, always leaves its door open, can’t dig deep into and be alone with itself, or just evoke anything independently, and therefore leads an utterly passive existence.
Better to say, passive attention is held not even by the object, but by the states of nervous system which are triggered by some phenomena of the external world. Social networks affect the pleasure center in the brain, and we want to turn our attention to them. Beneficial actions (such as language or music learning, theses writing) usually do not bring instant pleasure, they demand work and diligence. Their immense and existential effect will become tangible in the future. Unlike actions that are attractive right now (like web surfing), which in the future will not bring nothing but remorse for the wasted time.
It is of utmost importance for a person to have an option of choosing the things to think about and to break away from those which entered it forcibly. Kant ranks ‘the ability to be inattentive’, to tear yourself away from objects of our attention, above the ability to be attentive.”
“In the world of active attention it is not a human who owns a thing, but a thing that owns a human. I’m sick of rereading student notebooks, but I know that it’s my duty, and that it is essential to a success of the teaching I’m responsible for. At the same time, I feel deeply engrossed in a book in hand or conversation going in the same room; but I persistently focus on doing my duties. The more power I have over myself and my attention, the more effectively I achieve my goal, i.e. the more will power I have, the more of an active attention I possess.”
Alexander Amzin in his book “Бессистемные советы” [Russian edition, Eng. “Haphazard tips”] marks:
“Starting a new business, ask yourself — what kind of attention is being trained now? Do you want to hear, to see or read something interesting or to write, learn something useful? Unfortunately, the fact is that these two categories often do not coincide. Once you learn to separate active and passive attention, you will be able to notice it in your friends. All of these smokos, delays, reading social networks feeds, precious time waste reading second-rate books, — all that seeks to satisfy the passive attention daemon.”