If you spend as much time on the internet as I do, you begin to notice things. Sometimes its a pattern in trends you see in stories or memes that pop up. It could also be a paranoia about checking if a story is a hoax or not, even if it isn’t April Fool’s Day, but especially then.
For me, I’ve noticed my attention span has shrunk exponentially.
I have trouble watching YouTube videos that are longer than seven minutes unless they are particularly entertaining.
I’ll read maybe the first few paragraphs of an in-depth and insightful piece about what is happening in Syria.
If an article makes me click more than once to read the whole thing, I will just move on to something else. In fact there are entire websites I completely avoid because I know the whole thing is spread out over 24 pages, and I just don’t “have the time for that.”
Which is a lie, because of course I have the time to read, click and load multiple pages. I just don’t have the attention span to want to do it anymore.
I also find it hard to give my full attention to watching a movie or a T.V. show I’ve been waiting to see for a while. My phone, or tablet or laptop always seem to be permanently affixed to my hand.
There are a few things I make time for while lazily surfing the web and watching T.V.: listicles and quizzes.
I won’t be able to read an article in my spare time longer than 300 words, but give me a top 10 list of kitchen gadgets you need to have in your home, and I will read it through to the end. It usually turns out I already have most of the items on the list, because who doesn’t have a decent spatula or a slotted spoon?
But I make sure I read through the entire list and, truthfully, I feel a little proud if I’ve done something on the list or already own it.
Then I will move on to a quiz that takes 10 minutes to answer all the questions just to find out out kind of potato I am. I’m fried potatoes if anyone was wondering.
All the while some show or movie is playing on the T.V. and I’m sprawled out on the coach.
It’s not just me who has suffered from the inattention due to the internet. It is well documented most internet users pay less and less attention to what they are viewing while online. They spend less and less time on each page.
While in school I was told the listicle is the new age of journalism. This is simply because of the internet age. Sure it would look funny to see it in newsprint, but on the internet it has become so commonplace it’s nearly boring.
Like myself, most people reading something on the internet won’t read past 300 words. It is lucky to have a viewer read something longer than 500. It has to be pretty darn interesting to keep a viewer on the page to read an entire 700 word story.
But a listicle, with bullet points, makes it easier and faster to read. A quick list, numbered one to 10 with all the information there in one sentence, maybe three can hold my attention.
A quiz is just a simple way to draw traffic to a web page, and because the quiz takes longer to fill out, the viewer stays on the page and website longer, which is better for the website.
And, the best part of it all is, we all fall for it. We happily stay within our inattentive bubble digesting listicles and inane quizzes until our eyes cross.
With spring officially here, I am hoping to work on my attention span and maybe read less listicles and take less quizzes.
I really don’t need to know what type of cookie I am – sugar cookie, just so you know.
I find I partake in these pages a lot more during the winter months.
This spring, and into the summer, I hope to read more, and educate myself in something new. Maybe I’ll start to learn a new language; that’s been something I’ve wanted to do for years now.
Studies show a great way to increase one’s attention span is with fresh air. So while the “outer net” can be a strange world to one who lives most her life on the internet, I plan on doing just that.
With the weather warming, finally and hopefully it will continue, I am going to try to get outside more. Even if it is just a walk by the lake, science tells me it is good for me.
Maybe by the fall I’ll be better about how I spend my time online.