Different situations have always called for different types of attention: compare driving to reading a book, both of which require very specific types of attention. The modern default calls for fast attention switching. (src)

Could you introduce to me some synonyms for the "default" here? Does it mean something like The modern life calls for fast attention switching?

Is there any rule in English about using the same verb in two consequent sentences? Here are "called for" and "calls for". Is it ok? What synonyms might replace the verb "call for" here?


2 Answers 2


Default means the value or kind which is assumed in the absence of any qualification which specifies a different value or kind.

In this case, the author is speaking of different situations calling for different types of attention. The default situation, the author says—the situation we assume when we have no reason to assume another sort of situation—is a situation of a kind which calls for the type of attention the author names ‘fast attention switching’.

Using the same verb is essential to the author's meaning: it establishes the parallelism which makes the meaning clear:

SITn calls for ATTn :: SITdefault calls for ATTfast attention switching


"Default" is a poor choice of words in this case. Its normal meaning is "the [predefined] selection made in the absence of an explicit choice by someone". It can also mean "the failure to make payment on a debt", but that does not seem to be the usage here.

"The modern default" implies that [these days] in the absence of any explicit choice, that one would want to engage in fast attention switching as their mode of operation. What if the operation is enjoying a sunset over a lake? Or contemplating a painting? Or even, reading a book?

I think what the author was trying to say was that in modern life's fast-paced situations, more often than not the need is to switch attention rapidly, to handle inputs that demand immediate action. "Default" is a poor fit here - as humans, we would always be adjusting the type of attention we give to some situation. If you were enjoying a sunset from a lakeside pier, and a carnivorous sea monster were to emerge from the water, jaws agape, and try to snack on you, you would have to shift gears pretty quickly. However, that would be a very rare event.

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