Four days into the New Year, I have finally figured out my resolution for 2016. Nope, not weight loss – been there, failed that; stop drinking or smoking – don’t do either; stop procrastinating? It’s taken me 60+ years to master that so I’m not about to change.
My resolution for 2016? Increase my attention span. Yep, seriously.
You see, mine has dramatically diminished over the past few years and I want it back, and I’m not blaming it on aging stuff this time. It’s not my memory (though that seems to be getting a bit sketchier some days), but rather, my ability to concentrate, stay focused and pay attention. I’m tempted to post a billboard that says “Lost: One Middle Age Attention Span. Reward if Returned to Rightful Owner”.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the US National Library of Medicine, “the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish”. That’s right, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds, 1 more than the average person. Think about that for a moment, especially if you’ve ever flushed Ol’ Goldie down the toilet. It would be in distress longer than if we took the same fateful journey.
I usually don’t mind being average, but this isn’t one of those times. I’m stretching for “above average” and I’ve had to ask myself how or why has my attention span downsized so much? I’m “blaming” two things.
- Technology – Yes, at times, I can be as guilty as a 16 year old with my chin permanently aimed toward my chest, eyes focused on the dancing words on my phone or Ipad. (Unlike a 16 year old however, my neck has lost some flexibility and I can no actually longer rest any of my chins on my chest, but that’s another story.) I have become a bit of a tech junky. Now don’t worry, I’m not a candidate for the 12 Steps and Principles for Internet & Technology Addiction Recovery program (it really exists), but there are times I’d rather focus on a computer game or social media then engage in anyone or anything else. (I’ve convinced myself the games all have benefits for an aging mind; not sure I can say the same about Twitter.)
- Reality TV – I’ve been asking, which came first – our diminished attention span or the glut of reality TV shows on every network and cable station; no plot, no character development, no thought process required whatsoever. At any given time, I can be kept entertained by The Food Network or HGTV while I’m doing something else (like playing a computer game).
Am I the only one who has discovered this? I can watch a movie in the theater, but to sit and watch two hours of uninterrupted TV at home? Not going to happen. I am able to reserve 90 minutes for Downton Abbey, but nothing more. I even find myself sitting closer to the front in church so I can maintain a better focus, and I already have a dynamic minister, so that’s not the issue.
So, check back with me in a year, and I’ll let you know how I’ve done. If I can stay focused long enough to remember what it is I said I was going to do in the first place. I’m going to go and give it my first test and read a book. Wish me luck!