Saturday, October 23, 2010

I blame the internet for my shortening attention span

I've been blogging for several years now, and have finally gotten into social media (Twitter, mainly) in the last several months. In this time I've noticed that my attention spans have shortened. And not just when I'm sitting at the PC.

It also happens when I'm walking along, or having conversations. I just feel this urge to think about something else, look somewhere else, or talk about something else after a few seconds. It's like this little switch going on and off in my head at regular intervals. I don't obey these impulses, however they are definitely there. (And this is not just the normal "ceaseless chatter of the mind". This is something running over the top of that.)

Also, I've noticed that when watching TV I channel surf a lot more than I used to. And I did it quite a bit before the internet came along, too. I think this may be related to the fact that there are so many more channels now. So, to find out what all your options are at any given time, you have to flick through each of them quicker. That said, I do think that the instant gratification offered by search engines has something to do with this as well.

Here are a couple of interesting articles that concur with this assessment.

Thankfully, I have found that if I meditate, my brain does seem to slow down again. That's good to know. (It's also been confirmed by this study.)

I would be interested to read people's views on this subject. Have you discovered a similar effect? If so, what do you do to counter it, if anything?

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