So according to this study, our global “attention span” has decreased, as the amount of information available to us has increased.
I’m not convinced it’s a bad thing though - if there’s more information available, mightn’t these results also suggest that we’re more selective, and less susceptible to “herd mentality”?
The negative effects of social media and a hectic news cycle on our attention span has been an on-going discussion in recent years–but there’s been a lack of empirical data supporting claims of a ‘social acceleration’. A new study in Nature Communications finds that our collective attention span is indeed narrowing, and that this effect occurs - not only on social media - but also across diverse domains including books, web searches, movie popularity, and more.
Our public discussion can appear to be increasingly fragmented and accelerated. Sociologists, psychologists, and teachers have warned of an emerging crisis stemming from a ‘fear of missing out’, keeping up to date on social media, and breaking news coming at us 24/7. So far, the evidence to support these claims has only been hinted at or has been largely anecdotal. There has been an obvious lack of a strong empirical foundation.