As technology and social media trends evolve, we begin to question if our thinking processes are changing. If so, are they changing for better or worse? Nicholas Carr, author of the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, wrote that our ever changing and fast paced media platforms have caused his attention span to dwindle.
I have had the same feeling about my attention span. Once a bookworm, I lost myself for hours at a time in a novel. Now, I can only read a few pages without getting distracted by a social media notification or losing interest. I noticed this change in my attention span but never really understood why it was happening.
Julian Dibbell offers an interesting theory as to why some of us can no longer stay focused on a topic for a long period of time. The title of his article, “Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet the New Size of a Thought?”, is pretty self explanatory. Social media, particularly Twitter, only allows for short messages and as social media users, we are bombarded with short, uncomplicated messages that consist of little detail. Meaning, it is possible that our constant interactions with short messages have made our thought processes less detailed and our attention spans shorter. Nicole Plumridge, in her article called “Is the Internet Destroying Our Attention Span?”, wrote that “Our brains are becoming rewired to suit these technological times.”
However, some tweets have more detail than meets the eye. Tweets that have multiple layers, also known as “thick tweets”, offer Twitter users the option to find more information about the 140 character message. In my two thick tweets, I included links, hashtags, and other twitter usernames. By clicking on any of these, you’ll be redirected to another page that has much more information. I believe that most Twitter users that are my age overlook thick tweets. This is one of the first times that I have ever included a way to get more information on one of my social media posts. But, I think it is a good start to teaching our brains to slow down and absorb more details.
In my opinion, seeing short messages, such as tweets, on a daily basis could be either a positive or negative thing. On the negative side, such messages could be harmful to our ability to process complex information. On the positive side, tweets allow us to obtain the essential information more quickly and even open up a new way of thinking.
Have you felt that your attention span is becoming shorter? Do you think that this new way of thinking is more beneficial or harmful?
By Sarah Erickson