Fair warning: my writing typically takes more than 47 seconds to read.
It’s science. Attention spans are shrinking:
…Unfortunately, all too many of us are having “squirrel” days, according to Dr. Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies how digital media impacts our lives. In her new book, “Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity,” Mark explained how decades of research has tracked the decline of the ability to focus.
“In 2004, we measured the average attention on a screen to be 2½ minutes,” Mark said. “Some years later, we found attention spans to be about 75 seconds. Now we find people can only pay attention to one screen for an average of 47 seconds.”…
I’m not that surprised. There was this idea somewhere in the past that being constantly connected to other people was a great idea, but that idea also came with constant interruption.
As a Gen X sort of person, I’ve observed it anecdotally and have rebelled against it in workplaces, where younger generations in technology chose various chat technologies instead of email. We’d finally gotten the deluge of emails under control when that happened, where sending and receiving emails caused a drag on personal productivity. We controlled it with checking our emails only a few times a day.
Then some idiots decided that immediate conversations all the time with chat was a good thing. Some people seemed to thrive on it, some people didn’t, but one thing I noted as one of the rebels was that my work always got done while the people constantly chatting with each other never met deadlines. It’s anecdotal, but… now it’s been shown that our attention spans are indeed shortening, and if you have to take 25 minutes or more to refocus on what you’re doing after each interruption, your productivity is unlikely to be as good as it could be.
In our personal lives, social media has also gone from blog posts which have pandered to the shorter attention spans to people watching short videos on Facebook or TikTok or… whatever social media. Some think it’s great, many were born into it and don’t know the joy of not being interrupted. My grounding in the pre-Internet era, when we time-shared computers like real-estate, gave me that.
Maybe that’s why I stare at all the red dots running around and wonder why people of even my generation don’t pause and start focusing more on what’s important. The trouble is, we all think different things are important. That’s why when I wrote a brief note to Gen Z and Millenials I pointed out that we, indeed, didn’t start the fire. Yes, we failed to put things out, and yes, we did have a hand in screwing things up. There are lessons on why we screwed these things up.
But that would take more than 47 seconds to explain.
You folks need to work on that.
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