Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do You Ken Me Now?

May I have your attention.

Seriously. Getting and keeping another person’s attention is becoming increasingly more difficult.

Statistics show average attention span today is only eight seconds, a decline from 12 seconds in 2000. Eight seconds for a human is actually less than the attention span of a goldfish (nine seconds).

Of course, a goldfish has much less to engage its attention than a human. Still…

Some authorities are more generous with the figures, contending average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to five. Minutes, not seconds. In either case, it’s not much as time goes.

Scientists have pointed the finger of blame at television and other technological distractions of our age. Look around you and note the focus of your peers on their smart phones and other devices providing a pathway to the Internet and all its distractions—aural, visual and tactile. Few of us are oblivious to these wonderful yet detrimental aspects of our society.

Fewer people are reading today and reading scores are on a steady decline. We’ve all heard too many of those who do read complaining of books being too long, too complicated or lacking in enough action. Where’s the challenge if everything is easy?

Some may want to pooh-pooh the idea, citing the awesome benefits offered by this access to so much information. The problem is, how much can an ordinary person digest without sacrificing concentration and the ability to absorb knowledge?

Our ancestors didn’t have the distractions of constantly ringing phones, blaring radios, TVs with streaming “news” everywhere you go, not to mention alarm clocks that wake one up with music, appliances and power tools adding to the din, and motor vehicles of all types rocketing around the neighborhood.

I’m not being a Luddite and advocating throwing out the baby with the bathwater. But wouldn’t it be nice every once in a while to shut off the technology and look—really look—at the person next to you and give him or her more than eight seconds of your time?