Why don’t you while away a few precious minutes of your time consuming these related pieces of internet media, all on the topic of our pathetic attention spans and our ill-disciplined little brains.
First, I Dare You To Watch This Entire Video (its only three minutes):
(h/t Kottke). The guy in the video claims that its boring but of course, its not. Scott Berkun does the same thing in the form of a blog post, Why You Are Not Drowning in Data:
The world has always had far more information than we can consume, much less comprehend. The only thing that’s changed is our self-righteous stress in response to it. Consider these situations: When you go to a concert with friends are you distracted by the crowds around you? When you go to a bookstore, are you overwhelmed by the books you see? When you walk in nature, do the 1000s of plants & insects stress you out? When you breathe, does the air in the atmosphere you can’t inhale worry you?
Scott is the metaphorical father shouting at his teenaged son to get out of the damned bed and get a job or something. But in a nice way.
The guys on the Kraken Podcast came to a similar conclusion in their most recent episode. Each week they discuss a Thing, and this week the Thing was Social Media. Their conclusion was that often Twitter and Facebook are convenient excuses, and that people should “get some fucking self-discipline.” Quite.
Thinking about the distractions of the internet and the problem of information overload reminds me of an amusing quote from Robert Burton, writing in the seventeenth century:
I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, &c. daily musters and preparations and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies, and sea-fights, peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarms.
I’ve typed out a longer quote over on my commonplace book.
Finally, watch this clip of Louis CK on the Conan O’Brian show. He says we need to retrain ourselves to just be in ourself, just to sit and “be a person”. Instead, we are reduced to sending SMS messages and tweets in the car.
People are will to risk taking a life and ruing their own [by texting while driving] because they don’t want to be alone for a second, because its so hard…