Its A Text, Its A Tweet, Its Our Attention Span Getting Shorter
I don’t think we should acknowledge attention deficit as a disorder anymore. In fact, if your attention span is longer than 10 seconds, YOU’RE the one with the disorder.
I read somewhere that the average person’s attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds since the start of the digital age; that’s one second LESS than a gold fish. And that’s the “average” person. For millennials, I’m pretty sure our attention spans stop promptly at about 5 seconds.
If I had a dollar for every time I successfully completed a task without getting distracted, I would have exactly one dollar. Between smartphones and apps and social media and DVR, who needs to focus on anything for more than 8 seconds? We can fast-forward through commercials, send texts via voice recording, skip through a Snapchat story. In today’s digital age, everything is instant: food, friends, dates, rides, entertainment; you name it. And it’s all in the palm of your hand or the click of your mouse.
The shorter our attention, the more valuable it becomes: to media, to brands, to businesses; everyone is fighting for a piece. They’re all after me lucky charms!!! With so many sources of information, forms of entertainment, and ways to interact: email; texts; tweets; 6-second Vines; 10-second Snaps; Facebook posts, IG pics; Pinterest; Periscope; blogs, HOW DO WE FOCUS ON ANYTHING?
Newsflash … we don’t!
I have about six tabs on my computer right now full of articles that I’ve been trying to read for weeks. They’re all great articles, about interesting topics, but every time I sit down to read one, I get distracted by something else: a text, a tweet, a deep thought, or maybe the Aldo ad that seems to follow me around the internet. I’m reading two different books right now because I was half-way through one, but then the synopsis for another sounded interesting, so I started reading that too.
To make ourselves feel better about our fleeting attention spans, we call ourselves “multitasking.” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s no such thing as successful multitasking. As long as you’re dividing your attention between two or more things, NONE of those things are being done to the best of your ability.
How often do you read an entire paragraph and have no idea what you just read at the end because you were thinking about something else at the same time? You’re probably doing it RIGHT NOW! How many times have you missed your exit because you were texting and driving? Or how about when you turn down the radio so you can see better?
If you ask me, multitasking is more counterproductive than anything.
For example, the real reason I haven’t written a post in almost two months is because it literally requires too much attention and I just don’t have it. When it comes to my writing and my blog, I’m a perfectionist. Aside from having a simple idea for a post, it has to be a complete thought that can be articulated into 500 words or more. The language must be intelligent and witty with a side of sarcasm. I have to read and re-read and then re-write every sentence so that the sentence structure is comprehensive, the grammar is strong and the spelling is correct. Then, I have to find relevant quotes and captivating pictures so that my audience can make it all the way to the end of the post without getting bored or distracted. Add all that up and I’m easily looking at almost two hours for one post. And that’s if I focus solely on the post. But literally, in the process of writing this, I sent eight text messages, posted to Snapchat, checked five emails, chatted with my mom, browsed my Twitter timeline and read an article about the Republican National Convention. All of which turned two hours into four …it took me FOUR hours to write this post! Who has that kind of time?
Just thinking about it makes me tired before I even start, then … oh look, someone just text me … ohh the new episode of Love & Hip Hop just came on, I gotta watch this! Do you see the problem here?
The point of all this is that I’m tired of trying to divide my attention between the 100,000,000 things going on in the world at once. I would like to be able to read through a single news article in under two weeks, or write a blog post without learning that “Angela is now in a relationship with Paul” from Facebook.
I wasn’t sure where to start, so I read a bunch of articles. I found an interesting one on Time Management Ninja about ways to actually stop mulktistasking. I’m gonna try to put a few of these into practice and see if I can increase productivity and my attention span. We’ll see if I’m a better, more focused person when I sit down to write my next post. Stay tuned … well, not literally. Log off for a while and maybe come back later. How long has it been since you blinked?