Everyday, we are bombarded with an endless menagerie of advertisers, politicians and opinion that each fight for one fleeting second of our attention. This onslaught of information starts at the morning coffee and continues until the mind drifts off into the pleasantries of dream world. It’s actually quite surprising to even think how we are able to focus on anything for more than 30 seconds.
I’ve recently read an article that posits our national attention deficit to be a product of the way we are presented information in the online format. For example, when reading an article online, you have to balance your attention between the ads in the right column and the “other stories you may be interested ins” on the left. Our eyes seldom follow the standard direction and cadence a traditional newspaper once demanded. In complete contrast, we jump around the webpage, reading a sentence here, another phrase there, until we gather enough information to satisfy us into saying “there, I get the gist.”
The only way I’ve found to combat this input overload is to print out and read, on a hard-copy, things I need to seriously digest. I mean, the only distraction at that point is the phone ringing in your lap, the TV squawking in the background and the emails that keep ringing in on your laptop in the other room. Well…at least it’s a start.