Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Internet has Murdered My Already Fleeting Attention Span

Last night I stopped to write my friend a letter, on the train ride home I'd been composing it in my head, working out all the nuances and thinking of the perfect turn of phrase. Its one of the things I find fun and exciting.

Once home though I turned on the computer and it all fell apart.

During the course of writing my letter I stopped numerous times to check tumblr, flickr, facebook, twitter and god knows what else; despite that nothing had conceivably changed I stopped again to check it a second or even a third time. I stopped to write a shorter email to someone else. Even during the course of writing this post I stopped and clicked on the headers in my tabs section, which seemed to have no apparent purpose except to give myself a mental break.

The last few times I've picked up a book I've found the task of focusing on each page equally as difficult. On average, in a book that I find quite enjoyable I get through about a page and a half before my mind starts to wonder. Hopefully I start writing micro fiction because I can barely get through what I'm writing lately, averaging about five or six hand written sentences before I stop to do something else. This blog post began yesterday, was written partly this morning and will hopefully be completed now, this afternoon.

I've always had a bit of difficulty focusing on things over a long period of time, most of all on movies, least of all on books. But it seems over the past couple of months as my dedication to various sites has increased, my attention span has completely decreased. My productivity on the job has become a problem when every two to five minutes I feel like I need to check my email or see if I've missed a twitter. I'm always online and I'm always available but it feels like I'm getting less and less done. Apparently a BBC article reports that I am not the only goldfish in this internet ADD pond:
If you are spending too much time on the internet and are concerned that it is affecting your concentration, you are not alone.

The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds - the same as a goldfish.

"Our attention span gets affected by the way we do things," says Ted Selker, an expert in the online equivalent of body language at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

"If we spend our time flitting from one thing to another on the web, we can get into a habit of not concentrating," he told the BBC programme Go Digital.

Great, first it was commercials breaks now its the internet.

I feel like I should join a IA support group.

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At 5:43 PM, Blogger dqerwin said...

your posts are way too long - how am I supposed to focus long enough to read all that? maybe it would help if you were to write more often, 'cause I check your blog every like 15 minutes and it's hardly ever updated.

At 7:28 PM, Blogger mh said...

hmmm. Maybe checking my tumblr would make you feel a little more satiated.


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