How often do you watch half a Youtube video, then get bored halfway through and click on the next post? Or look at the first view images in a blog slideshow, before closing the window because you’re just not that interested. Perhaps you skim through an article, only to realise you have no recollection of what you’ve just read.
As a human race, our collective attention span is getting lower and lower – when it comes to media and entertainment that is.
Some recent research shows that trending hashtags on social media are staying in the top 50 for much less time than they were five years ago. Similarly, movie ticket and book sales are lower. Essentially what this means is that things that used to hold our attention for longer, no longer do so.
Why aren’t we paying attention?
But is the problem with us as human beings, or is there something else at work?
Here’s something interesting: studies show that we lose focus and struggle to concentrate when it comes to consuming entertainment media. But this isn’t the case with websites like Wikipedia or more complex academic or scientific articles. This suggests that the issue is with entertainment media and not a faulty evolution of the human brain – thank heavens!
Entertainment has become saturated
The sheer number of entertainment options available is increasing exponentially every year. There are more entertainment accounts on social media, more blogs, more Youtube channels to fuel our social media addiction. There are more movies made, more series released – and it’s all easier to access thanks to sites like Netflix.
Because we have so many options when choosing what to watch or read, it’s harder for any one trend to have the same amount of longevity that it used to have. Entertainment saturation also overwhelms the senses. The more we frantically consume media, the more we become bored and lose focus more easily.
What’s the solution?
More research still needs to be done on the long term effect of media consumption on our attention span. For now, it looks like knowledge-based concentration is not being affected. So don’t be too concerned if you struggle to focus from time to time! That said, a media detox never hurt anyone. Try going offline (or at least minimise your media consumption) for a few days, and see how it affects your general attention span. It can’t hurt, and you’ll probably feel relaxed, refreshed and better connected to the real world.