This is a blog post by Christina Harden. I read it a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I thought I would pass it on. If you want to go to her blog, click here.
So according to Patrick Wintour’s article “Facebook and Bebo Risk ‘Infantilising’ the Human Mind,” ‘Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity(sic).”
But how accurate is that really? Here’s a small test for you.
Odds are like me, you did your best to focus very hard on the team in white. You wanted to prove you have a good attention span and watched the players. But your ability to focus on the whole screen was impaired. This is dangerous on the road, and when looking up information.
I feel this article is a little strong, but at the same time may contain some truth. Focusing on marketing, I remember when commercials lasted a whole minute, now they’re cut into 30 seconds of flashing lights and fanciful arrangements. Even public service announcements (PSA) are being treated in this manner. Any PR practitioner trying to relate with this generation has to be quick and concise, and building the relationship between the company and clients has to be just as fast.
During my Education classes I’m constantly being reminded that technology must be actively used whenever possible in order to keep students’ attention. My pastor checks his watch during sermons so not to hold the congregation too long. Hundreds of self-help books have emerged on how to handle procrastination; almost all of which point out distraction (a short attention spans best friend) as one of the problems to combat. Even company websites are lessening the word content and amp-ing up the visual effects. Are we losing our attention spans?
In a world where we expect our news in 140 characters or less, no doubt we are. I wouldn’t say social networks are the cause of this breakdown, but a result of it. Because people are feeling such a need to rush from one activity to the next, we are shorting the time we are willing to spend on any transaction, and this includes communication and information retrieval.
We want to connect to others, but there simply isn’t time to chat with all 500 people that cutler our friends lists. And at the same time the sad reality is, none of our friends are making time for us. We post blurbs of our lives in an attempt to be known and are turning up empty. Likewise we aren’t really connecting to anyone based off a few status updates.
We want to know what’s going on all over the world, and we want to know now. But extensive study of any one subject means we’re missing info somewhere else. Tweets flyby in an instant. If the space allotted were any longer we’d miss what was being said altogether. So we look for quick snips of knowledge here and there, from marketing to PSAs, and were actually learning very little.
Our minds are being programmed to enjoy the ‘short’ which in turns means we’re losing the discipline needed for a long-attention span. I could be wrong on all these points, but still the trend remains; short and sweet.