Broken Attention Spans in a World of Information Overload


Living in the moment, it is hard to see where we are in the information age. Many GenXers will happily relate how they had to do research in college or how Saturday morning was the only time you could catch cartoons. We would hope to catch a glimpse of the fuzzed out Playboy channel or revel in a porno mag with still pictures.

Today we have instant gratification, instant info, instant entertainment, instant pornography. It’s all just a click away.

But we are bored and we can’t focus. We drift from point to point, whatever catches our eye. We can’t read long articles, hell we can’t read long emails.

We went from writing letters to pen pals, to sending emails, to texting & tweeting. Now we snapchat, vine and periscope. Thousands of letters to a paragraph to 140 characters to a picture we doodle on.

Yet, the information continues to build and get put to use by ‘someone’. Computers now review cancer diagnosis and provide better prognosis than the top physicians in the field. Politicians fight over policy & leaked emails, every 10 minutes a poll is submitted that shows what people are really thinking of their candidate and they adjust their next bite size policy statement.

What would happen if someone from the 40s or 50s was dropped into today? How would they receive this overload of information with their attention span which surely must dwarf those of today. Would they be an instant success or would they curl up into a ball, unable to process the massive influx of celebrity dating information coupled with the latest meme?