As someone who works in media, I write a lot about it. It never ceases to amaze me how it continues to alter our daily lives.
I don’t mean everyone, of course – some people are able to shun binge TV viewing, social media, multiple screens…but in general, as the media goes, so do we.
I came across an interesting statistic recently while reading Ken Auletta’s book, “Frenemies,” published in 2018, about “the epic disruption of the advertising industry (and why this matters).”
Generally, it spells out how the ad industry has changed into the data-driven operation it is today, with a few large, key players owning virtually all the usable data used to sell YOU, the consumer, what the seller’s selling.
But it was a chapter about the old advertising axioms going by the wayside that prompted my attention today.
In it, Auletta quotes Michael Kassan as he delivered some stark statistics at a panel in 2017:
-62 percent of Americans get their news from Facebook.
-90 percent of Americans consult a second screen while watching TV.
-The attention span of a goldfish (nine seconds), according to a Microsoft study, exceeds that of a human (eight seconds).
And I have to admit that I am guilty of these as well.
Often, I find myself scrolling my Facebook feed, only to click on a news story which I find interesting.
When I watch TV or a movie, I often have my phone next to me, beeping and vibrating as alerts come through. When I get bored with what’s on the screen, I consult my phone to make sure “I’m not missing anything.”
Is my attention span only eight seconds? I don’t know, but knowing that stat makes me want to improve it.
We’re all sucked in to thinking we can get more done thanks to all this modern tech, but all it has done is distract us, pulling our attention away from the larger picture to all these small interruptions.
It’s basically a dopamine drip – we get a sort of “high” every time we check our phone, hoping for some amazing new post or link we can check out from some friend or entity.
By now we should know better. It’s just another form of entertainment – entertainment that can keep us up all night if we let it.
So silence the phone, put it away, turn it off – and concentrate on the task at hand.
Or kill all the goldfish.
How else can take our attention-span title back?