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Human-Goldfish Syndrome: we all have it Now.

27 Heart it! Karissa Anderson 4.4k
March 24, 2018
Karissa Anderson
27 Heart it! 4.4k

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:

I promise

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.


Love, Karissa



Author: Karissa Anderson
Image: Courtesy of author
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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27 Heart it! Karissa Anderson 4.4k
27 Heart it! 4.4k

Jeannette Eagan Mar 28, 2018 8:56am

I’ve said for a very long time that people these days have the attention span of a gnat. Trying to talk to co-workers or grandkids and getting “uh huh, I’m listening” while they’re on their phones, with absolutely no eye contact, makes me want to leap across the desk or counter & smash their phones! What usually happens is me loudly saying “HEY!”, they’re startled, look at me like I’ve lost my mind & I proceed to speak. Frequently it’s rinse & repeat as they become distracted again… I throw my hands up…”HEY!”.

    Karissa Anderson Mar 29, 2018 11:43pm

    I here that!!

    It’s so bizarre observing technology and how it has changed human interaction so vastly the past 20 years, but it is comforting to know that there are still people who are grounded and interested in meaningful undistracted connection.

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