The web has shortened your attention span. But that isn’t the problem.
Did you ever consider that the hyperlink, by definition, reduces patience? It gives us unrestricted access to information, immediately, without intermediaries. That’s why Google is the most powerful site in the world; it points directly to whatever you want it to. And that’s the power of the web– instant availability. No barriers.
The problem isn’t the short attention span this leads to. It’s the fact that the best information is never at the top– because that’s not how humans communicate.
Consider any book you’ve read this year. Now that it’s done, which pages are dog-eared? Which information was most interesting? I’m betting it wasn’t page one.
If the author was considering everyone’s attention span, it would be right there at the beginning. But that’s never how we do things.
Instead, humans tell stories– they weave tales in order to create suspense and surprise. They also sometimes write without having a point, only getting to it when they’ve been writing (or talking) for a while.
So there’s a disconnect between the way we deliver information and the way we process it.
When we absorb it, it goes into our vaults as hyperlinks do– connected, tag-like, but with no beginning, and no end. When we deliver it, we do it the way we experience events– chronologically.
This means that your shortened attention span is causing you to miss out on a lot of great stuff. It won’t let you get to the end, but the end is often where the best stuff lies.
I think the solution is to train yourself– read long books, force yourself out of your comfort zone habitually and often.
But the problem there is that you may waste a lot of time on stuff that doesn’t have a point at all, or that just isn’t worth the patience you’re devoting to it.
Where is the middle ground? Is there one? What do you think?