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Attention, Please

February 9, 2017
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

From our very first days of recollection, we have been told to "pay attention." From toddler to forever, our minds wander and we have to bring things into focus and pay attention to the real world.

Some time ago, I came across a paragraph from VentureBeat that held my attention:

Our 8 Second Attention Span and the

Future of News Media

"As news media became increasingly reliant on social media and as social media increasingly found its way into all of our lives, humans seem to have adapted our attention span to this information flood. We had to figure out how to deal with the constant bombardment of information, so we shortened our attention span from 12 to 8 seconds to help us multitask, prioritize, and consume quickly and efficiently. But could we reach 7, 6, or 5 seconds? I find that unlikely. Instead, I think that we're at a turning point in this relationship?-?news media is starting to adapt to us."

That is so right. Our lives have become abbreviated to include headline news, sound bites and info boxes. The world is instantly at our fingertips as our smart phones are forever in our hands. There is an app for everything.

Technology has made life so much easier, further abbreviating the time to complete a task. Is that why our attention span is getting shorter?

Remember the days of learning long division, marking out the numbers carefully on paper??Now we have a calculator to do the work.

Why chop wood, haul it in the house and work to start a fire in the fireplace, when one touch of the finger brings instant heat with an electric fireplace? Is it really the same?

Before the days of the microwave oven, home cooks planned meals well in advance of dinner time. The microwave shortened that process and for some it is the go-to cooking device. On the other hand, there is the crock pot. Slow cook a meal for half a day and enjoy dinner the minute you get home. With the flood of cooking shows on television, we may be returning to more creativity in the kitchen and involving family members in the process.

Shortcuts are a challenge. If we save time on this, we will have more time for that. So does it stand to reason, the shorter the time to complete the task, the shorter our attention span?

An old Paul Simon song talks about our "short little span of attention." Wouldn't we all like to think we are still at the 12 second attention span instead of 8 seconds?



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