We Are All Losing Our Attention Spans

Or is it just me?

In a world where the way in which we view media is becoming more and more compacted, it only makes sense that our attention spans are shortening as we look at the things around us through increasingly smaller windows.

For me the change was obvious, the very way in which I interact with visual media changing and evolving. I could chart my downfall from normal TV, to recorded programmes, to watching things on my laptop, to YouTube videos. Each step decreased the length of time which the ‘programme’ lasts, from an hour including adverts, to five to ten minutes without. And I struggle even not to check my phone during that ten minutes.

For me it’s all about the accessibility of information: I no longer need to watch things I’m only half-interested in. I can stream my favourite programmes on my computer hours after they’ve aired. If something bores me, even for a few seconds, I have the opportunity to access entirely new types of information on my phone: social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram ensure that there is always something new to digest, 24/7.

And I guess what I’m trying to say that it’s not healthy. It can’t be. For someone who has always struggled with films over the hour and half mark anyway, perhaps the decline was inevitable. Perhaps we are all bound to lose the ability to focus on things for longer periods of time until all we are able to concentrate on are six second Vines, and even then we will have to check our phones halfway through to ensure that we haven’t missed anything.

It’s a truly terrifying thought, and I think that there’s only one thing we can do about it. Turn off our phones and tablets, put away our distractions, relearn how to interact entirely with media and fiction and other people. Give yourself up to a film, a TV show, a book, a conversation, completely. Dedicate time to actively staying off the grid. Switch your phone into airplane mode while you sleep and feel how much more well-rested you will be.

Let yourself be unreachable.

All in all, allow yourself to be swept up in to the beauty of good media, and of good stories. It’s your life and you can’t live it with your eye on something else and your mind elsewhere.

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5 comments

  1. I can’t agree with headline of this blog: that our attention spans are getting smaller. Attention lasts from the moment you wake to the moment you sleep (some argue it goes into our dreams). Don’t see it as a failing because we don’t spend large amounts of time on fewer topics, rather understand we now have the chance to absorb more information from lots more sources in the same time frame (a day). Indeed, having more information streams to hand gives you more chance of inducing, rather than deducing; more chance to think critically we multiple threads of information, rather than subscribing to few threads.
    I concur that a healthy lifestyle means doing everything: switching yourself off from social media, phones et al. is a good and necessary choice. But “little and often” can be ascribed to far more than food; it is a way of living.
    (‘ll ignore my hypocrisy in preaching this whilst online on a social media site 😉 As Kurt Vonnegut would say – “So it goes”.)

  2. I can’t agree with headline of this blog: that our attention spans are getting smaller. Attention lasts from the moment you wake to the moment you sleep (some argue it goes into our dreams). Don’t see it as a failing because we don’t spend large amounts of time on fewer topics, rather understand we now have the chance to absorb more information from lots more sources in the same time frame (a day). Indeed, having more information streams to hand gives you more chance of inducing, rather than deducing; more chance to think critically with multiple threads of information, rather than subscribing to few threads.
    I concur that a healthy lifestyle means doing everything: switching yourself off from social media, phones et al. is a good and necessary choice. But “little and often” can be ascribed to far more than food; it is a way of living.
    (‘ll ignore my hypocrisy in preaching this whilst online on a social media site 😉 As Kurt Vonnegut would say – “So it goes”.)

    1. Hello! Yes I definitely see what you mean. I think perhaps I meant more the ability to concentrate on visual media for long periods of time (films, tv, etc.) rather than our attention spans in whole. But I went for the dramatic headline instead haha. It’s definitely a good thing that there’s now a lot more information out there in a day for us to experience and dissect, but I think that sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming – that there’s too much and that it’s a bit too easy for us to be in contact with it, and in turn for us to be distracted by it. I’m just as bad as anyone at this, I’ll happily admit that I’m addicted to my iPhone and to all my social media accounts. It’s just a personal preference that I like to try and switch off from it all once in a while for some head space, and I’d recommend it to others too. But again, highly ironic that I’m expressing it through said social media site. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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