You may have caught the tidbit I buried last week deep on page (whatever) regarding the human attention span. All week, I felt a need to expound upon information I stumble across in my daily intake of useless information.
A survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft found, since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) that the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. We now have a shorter attention span than goldfish, according to an official report from 2015.
Attention span was defined as “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.” I tried to read the entire 52-page report, well, not really, I skimmed it. Still, a quote from Satya Nadella, the chief executive officer of Microsoft, jumped out at me. “We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly, human attention”. CEO Wisdom, right?
Okay, so you have to take everything with a grain of salt, especially a report from Microsoft whose flash-based digital ads seem to be loosely attached to science. It’s obvious that our devices have rewired our brains. We think in momentary blips of expounding interruption. The trash piles up around the relevant tidbits in a never ending stream of distractions. And, the last blast of dopamine only accelerates the need for another round before closing time.
Welcome to my world, right? I watch my kid, my wife, now even my 71 year mother, reach for their device when idle time needs attention. I am not pointing fingers, I live with my phone, and, even sleep with my phone. I love my phone. What an incredible tool! A tool that touches the depths of knowledge living in the mysterious binary code of the digital age.
In less than two decades, we have fallen madly in love with our devices. We live and die with them attached to us like that piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. We have a wealth of human knowledge and understanding, real or not real, at our fingertips just waiting for a swipe and tickle. My question is; are we going to end up on a path of evolution that reads like a science fiction novel with one giant cycloptic eye, baby-sized tyrannosaurus rex arms with two fingers, and, a thumb on each hand?
If you care to dive into it, click here for the Attention Span Analysis Report.