Thursday, November 05, 2009

The downfall of the Attention Span

I'm having problems concentrating. It's been months since I last read anything that isn't online, and I fear I may no longer be capable.

Would it be terribly DailyMail-esque to say that I agree with what

"What the net seems to be doing is chipping away at my capacity for concentration and contemplation,” [Carr] wrote. “My mind now expects to take in information the way the net distributes it: in a swift-moving stream of particles".
Reduced attention spans. And, personally, I think it's true. Which isn't to say that it's all bad, far from it. For one thing, since the internet I've been writing much more often. It's also immensely easier to access information, which in turns means your brain won't sizzle for that long if you can't remember a word, a fact, anything. Whoever missed the penalty at Euro 96...? Just check online and bob's your uncle.
But. But. But. I've noticed I've become less patient with films. I'll be honest. If they don't get straight to the point within ten minutes I get tetchy, which was never the case before. I'm way less patient with books as well. I'm having problems concentrating. It's been months since I last read a newspaper that isn't online, and I fear I may no longer be capable.

I can't read a bleedin thing without my eyes twitching towards the open tabs at the top every ten seconds. And thank fuck I'm not into computer games at all, otherwise you could add another massive distractor to the equation.

And I think this is reflecting at all levels. The way TV programmes are filmed- hysterical, fastforwarded, crammed with pop ups and clipped-to-death, with the longest frame tallying 2 seconds. Almost as though it was assumed that a steady narrative would prompt us to turn over and check another channel. Or go back online.

I have not been bitten by a warewolf; Letter to a film student


BiluĊ› said...

Nail on head, Claude - even if a little prolix ;)

Jamie Sport said...


Joking! Yep I think you're pretty much spot on, and it's not too Mail-esque to say so.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

It's your choice to have a short attention span though Claude and the answer is quite simple, get rid of facebook, twitter and all the other useless bits and pieces, certainly get rid of the old TV and sit down with a good book and read it.

Always have one on the go, always be absorbing new stuff that isn't online, you have the choice don't you?

Emma said...

Gosh, Daniel. Obviously one has the choice to read or do non-internet related things if they want to.

The point of the article was to illustrate how the internet, computer games etc can slowly erode a persons ability to concentrate on those things.

Seems you have misread the article for a change, Daniel ;-)

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

The emoticon doesn't hide the attitude Emma.

I get the point, I just don't buy it because it is a choice.

socialist sam said...

Everything's choice though isnt it?
'Course you could choose to walk instead of catching the bus or, worse, driving. But isn't the alternative so tempting though?

My greedy brother doesn't have to guzzle that pre-packed fat burger. He could take a breath and start cooking from scratch instead. Again, one appeals to our inner lazy self more than the other.

Choice we do have indeed. But when one of the options is so cumbersome and addictive, then...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Indeed it is but things like being fat or lazy or ignorant are a matter of choice, thus you can't moan about that choice can you?

Having said that, I'm rather straight-edge and po-faced on such things.

Emma said...

'Attitude' ...Will gloss over that one Daniel, especially the pot/kettle connotations that we've been over a million times during our previous exchanges.

You really can't deny that the internet is addictive though, can you? I'm a smoker and I honestly think that I'd be able to go a day or two without a cigarette if I had to, but a day or two without the internet? No chance. That would make me far more annoyed than nicotine withdrawal.

Surely you can't be a contrarian about that.

claude said...

Well...I'm not going to get into a competition over who's the most virtuous.

I'm just telling you how I feel. I am addicted to my internet routine. It's annoying me. It's affecting me, I'm trying to fight it. Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don't.

Recently I've found myself turning off the computer, really pissed off, realising I've just wasted 3,4,5 hours refreshing pages or aimlessly hopping from link to link.

It's my weakness. I'm simply owning up to it.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I'm just offering some tough love Claude, that is all, that's the best thing about your confession so to speak is that you have the power to change the situation so it doesn't have to be that way.

claude said...

No worries, Daniel.

What I simply wanted to say is that even when I manage to turn off the fucker and pick up a book I find my concentration is all over the place.

PhilH said...

I'm with you.

And I have 8 other tabs open on Firefox right now because the articles/videos are too long to bother with right now. I am likely to end up just closing them in the morning.

If I live on my own at any point I plan not to have Internet, and live close to a cafe with free wifi.

I need to spend more time writing stories, drawing comics, and doing research into education in Africa.