As I mentioned in my previous blog post, “Mulit-taskers and Multi-screeners”, my ability to focus on one thing at a time is suffering because of technology and the Internet. In recent years, it has been concluded that humans have an attention span of 8 seconds, which is largely due to smartphones. Even though this sounds bad, I wondered if the ability to multi-task has benefits. I did some research and found a few arguments about the advantages of shorter attention spans.
The first argument is that shorter attention spans allow us to draw the most out of our lives, because we can get information faster. If a website is loading too slowly, we will go to another one, which eliminates time wasted. Another argument is that because our world is so high-tech and fast-paced, it encourages more innovation. Even though it seems we have all we could want in a smartphone or laptop, there are constantly new inventions coming out, because people want more.
My favorite argument, mostly because it makes me feel better about myself, is that our attention spans are not shorter, they are more selective. There is also evidence that IQ’s have been increasing along with memory, despite the shrinking attention spans. Isaiah Hankel, author and speaker, gives nine benefits of shorter attention spans, and a couple stood out to me*. The first being we are more committed, meaning we choose to pay attention to the most important things in our lives. This allows us to stay focused on goals and achieve them. Next, he argues we are connectors. He uses the example of Steve Jobs not being great at engineering, designing, and art, but he brought specialists in those areas together.
Even though I get frustrated at my disability to focus, I know that better technology is ultimately not a bad thing.
*Note: This article is a little one-sided, but there were still some useful arguments.