The internet is pretty busy these days. (Hey! Over here. Stay with me.) There’s a fierce battle of eyeball real estate going on; somehow, I won you over to my blog. I promise to be quick.
Have you noticed attention spans weakening at a frightening pace? I’m as bad as anyone. Lately, I’ve felt less like Greek Homer and more like Springfield Homer.
SIDE NOTE: I may or may not have just spent 20 minutes on Youtube watching old Simpsons videos.
The internet is just absolute madness: eons and eons of digital stimuli. Remember not knowing the answer to things? That was awkward. What once took a lifetime of information to collect, can now be searched and understood in less than five tweet-seconds.
But I can’t help but wonder about the negative long-term effects of all this big data and short segmented behavior. If things keep going the way they are (and one can only assume it will) humans may just become the most annoying creatures of all time. A Keurig will even be too slow. Maybe that’s why, in the movies, when people discover how to travel through time, they always escape the future and prefer the past. Terminator, obviously, just wants to chill.
Pinterest is a worthy case study and is my favorite example of short-term focus.
If you’re not familiar with Pinterest then let me give you a summary: it’s pictures of things. There’s creative looking things, tasty looking things, funny things… a bunch of things. No set up, no take down, just pictures. It’s like showing up for dinner and finding a steak on the floor.
Since my wife is a Pinterest fan, and I’ve enjoyed some great meals from it, I can’t really hate on it too much. Some would argue that this mass influx of information, specifically on Pinterest, allows for people to expand their mind by putting to use all these recipes and crafts. Instagram, a Facebook owned social media phone app which also rewards short attention span behavior, is similar to Pinterest in that it motivates its users to experience life by taking pictures of interesting things and sharing them with their friends.
It’s clear that we are motivating people to do more with their life by giving them smaller, more accessible ways of showing off. And I can’t help it. Did you know I recently went to the Jell-O Museum? It was ALL OVER Instagram.
But I do worry about the repercussions from our massive cloak of information. Access is great, but don’t we really need to truly understand and experience life for ourselves, outside of the web, outside of our phones (once in a while)? This lifestyle, of course, would require dedication and expertise–both notions undervalued and discouraged by current society.
In ten years, I worry if we’ll even have the patience to explore deep themes in art and/or build long lasting personal relationships. I worry if we’ll be able to concentrate and solve large problems. (I am sounding so old right meow).
Will our books and novels be only filled with only flash-flash fiction? Good God, what will live theater look like!?
ACT 1: Scene 1
Tom: I doth eat at Applebees
Beth: Here, a funny picture of a cat
Albert: 5 Tips for Tip Listing
Suzy: Isn’t Ryan Gossling hot?
Charles: “Inspirational quote”
Sally: Vintage jewelry for sale!
Kevin’s Final Thoughts
The internet panders to our short attention spans, yes. In truth though, the internet isn’t evil, Facebook isn’t the devil, and Pinterest isn’t Ticketmaster. They’re just websites and tools we use. Like alcohol, TV, or coffee before it, the internet has no safeguard. It’s us who carry the responsibility of moderation.
We are an internet driven generation who is over-stimulating the same area of its brain on a daily basis. I think it’d be wise to keep this in check, to take a break every now and then, and, if possible, reward our sustained attention span with a mental cookie.
Before you go, I’d love to hear your thoughts in response. What’d you think? Stay with me.. no… nooo… noo!!!
Further Reading: Internet Fasting: My Googless Week
I’m not a big fan of Pinterest because it encourages copyright violations. Not a big deal to many, I suppose, but Pinterest pins are taking over Google image searches – which isn’t really very nice for the person who posted the original image.
I wrote a fictional post the other day about ‘RivetPics’ – the rise and fall of. None of my regular readers commented about it, and I expect they either didn’t get it, or it was too much effort to read 679 words. So yes, I have to agree with your observations about attention spans!
I spend a lot of time on the Internet. Lately, to preserve my sanity I have been taking “social media Sabbaths.” By devoting 24 consecutive hours to life off-line, my mind is rebooted and my spirit is refreshed.
Hilarious, and true. Good job on motivating me to close this window (as soon as I click “post”), my many tabs, and go shower/organise life/be human.