Professor Robin Myrick
8 October 2012
Rhetorical Analysis of “In Defense of Distraction”
New York magazine writer, Sam Anderson, in his article, “In Defense of Distraction,” analyzes the effects of a lack of attention caused by the Internet and electronics on the population of the information era. Anderson’s purpose is to explain how even though most of the world’s population is constantly distracted, the situation cannot be reversed. Therefore, he argues, this problem should be embraced to lead to a more creative collection of minds. He adopts a vibrant and humorous, yet still informative, tone in order to persuade his audience of easily distracted, electronic and social-media-centered readers, and convey his message that maybe having a shorter attention span can actually be an asset.
Throughout the article, Anderson makes it clear that instead of narrating, he is directly addressing the reader; he often interrupts himself to insert a random thought or expand on what he was saying in a previous part of the article which is directed towards the reader. He does this to keep the audience’s attention; the entire work is focused on attention spans and distractions, therefore he knows at which points to add a little tidbit of humorous information to keep readers entertained. The article contains various strategic uses of punctuation, the most common of which are the parenthesis and dash; these work to successfully to break up the article and insert his personal thoughts. Anderson mainly uses long descriptive and detailed sentences to elaborate on the purpose of his article. These sentences are full of vibrant word choices that maintain the readers’ interest.
The entire article is very well armored with impressive diction; especially the verbs he uses (such as: “hunt,” “lament,” “fetishize,” “diagnose,” “cultivate,” “harness,” and “pump”), which are creative and colorful, and keep the reader entertained (Anderson 2). His word choice throughout the first half of the article conveys negative claims towards how our mind works, being easily distracted by the Internet and our readily available electronic devices that seem to consume so much of our time. He argues that “multitasking is draining our souls,” and that we as a population are “mentally obese” (Anderson 2). However, towards the end of his work, he shifts his tone and adopts a negative tone about having too much fo...