The average attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds.
It is said that the average attention span of a human is now eight seconds.
Does this alarm you as much as it alarms me?
Like it or not, we are heading toward a culture in which attention deficit is the norm.
What I am noticing as I navigate through my days is a huge struggle with my own attention span and ability to focus on a task through completion without veering off track several times first.
It seems as though with anything and everything at our fingertips, it is harder than ever to keep focused.
“There is an essential energy that is the basis of all that exists. I do not feel it because my energy is occupied by everything contained in my memory—thoughts, images, desires, disappointments, physical impressions. I don’t know what I am. It seems that I am nothing. Yet something tells me to look, listen, seek seriously and truly. When I try to listen I see that I am stopped by thoughts and feelings of all kinds. I listen poorly; I’m not quiet enough to hear, to feel. What I wish to know is more subtle. I do not have the attention that is required.” ~ De Salzmann
We are bombarded by electronic distractions: Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Crackle, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tinder, Okcupid, Bumble, email, smart phone, laptop, ipad, Pandora, Soundcloud…and so much more.
In the dating scene, I often wonder how frequently a good connection goes unnoticed in various public settings because one or both people are looking down at their phones swiping on dating apps. The irony of it all hurts my brain.
In an effort to reduce my personal distractions, I got off Instagram for just over a month recently. You know what I noticed after a few days? I had started checking my email a whole lot more, let me tell you—and I have no reason to check my email more than twice a day.
*Throws hands in air in dismay*
So bizarre how deep the addiction runs. It just goes to show that if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.
The wealth of options is lethally defusing the brain’s ability to focus and commit on all levels: career, children, friends, lovers, pets—and most importantly, ourselves.
I bet children growing up right now often feel like they have to compete against technology for their parents attention. I can’t even imagine.
Apps are the sneakiest thief of time and attention.
No one opens them up thinking, “Ah, I have 20 minutes to 2 hours to give to you.” No, no. You open it up to just check really quick, and then you get sucked into the black hole of scrolling—or you open them up in a social setting, in avoidance of your present moment, as a crutch to fill the void until the person you’re waiting for shows up or your food order is ready. What might seem like a harmless time filler is, in actuality, deteriorating our ability to connect with others in the flesh.
From one goldfish to another:
to scroll less,
to look up more,
to be more present in the world around me,
and to be more diligent with my presence and time spent on social media.
Author: Karissa Anderson
Image: Courtesy of author
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
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