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Why is our attention span narrowing?

Our attention span is continually reset by a fast-response electronic environment.

In general our attention span corresponds to the pace with which we transmit information. The slower we exchange information the slower our attention span. The faster the exchange the more compressed our attention span.

We pick up the telephone and speedconnect across the country or planet. We turn on a switch and our computer terminal suddenly springs to life and begins to chatter away with other terminals all over the continent.

We activate our radio for instant news—instant interviews—instant updates—instant music—instant psychotherapy—instant medical diagno­sis—instant sex advice.

Via remote control we produce a flush of quick fade-in/fade-out realities on our TV screens. We timeswitch and timefreeze and timescan. We flashback and flashforward.

Touch a button and switch years—decades—centuries. Switch from the 1980s to the 1830s to the 1460s to the 2030s. Just like that.

Touch a button and switch cities—countries—continents—planets. Switch from Boston 1996 to Beverly Hills 1936 to the South Seas 1870 to Vienna 1755 to Mars 2013. Just like that.

Touch a button and people-switch. Drop in on a global telecon­ference—eavesdrop on an intimate love affair—sit by safely and watch a realtime street demonstration across the planet.

You can even watch several events in different time zones simulta­neously.

Soon even touch will be too slow. Just say the word and presto— switch contexts.

We tune in what we like—tune out what we do not like. Just like that.

We live in the age of instant access. Instant response. Instant tune-in/tune-out.

We receive and process and transmit information with a facility and rapidity unimaginable just a few decades ago.

Never have we juggled around time the way we do today.

This ability to shift contexts at will—to manipulate time—has pro­foundly compressed our attention span.

Date: 2015-02-28; view: 1137

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