I loved this account ... well, in the sense that I was also terrified by it. It's interesting ... I expect that the distraction was already there at that time, but that time was still much less subdivided. Moments, entire hours, evenings, could pass by without interruption, I imagine. It's not as if telegraphs didn't occasionally break up a scene. They were much more costly to send than texts, though, I think.
Persons' energies were already very much distracted though -- distracted by self-definition, narrative, recrimination, the vanquishing of imaginary foes. Still, destructive as all of this must have been to serenity, technology has brought in another layer of stultification. The constant end-of-scene/thought/conversation sponsored by phone/text/tweet/commercial break has, I think, introduced a whole new level of consciousness demolition. That's why escaping interruption, however costly it may be, is an increasingly crucial transgression.