Could a goldfish watch an Instagram ad for longer?

In an age of notification bombardment, is your attention span deteriorating and can it be fixed?

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Introduction

If you’re like me you fell in love with reading as a child. You would spend hours caught up in a book and find yourself unable to put it down. Then maybe as you got older you didn’t have time for books and prioritised other hobbies and activities instead. Now your attention span has deteriorated so much that sitting down to focus on a book can be a distant memory.

Why do we not allocate more time to distraction-free concentration to complete tasks or goals that we have set for ourselves? In my opinion, setting aside more time for concentrated work can be invaluable, rather than being in a world where the constant bombardment of information is all too common.

This is a constant problem for myself and I am sure others too, where this issue seems to be discussed more often and in more detail. However, there are many conflicting opinions and arguments for the real reason why we can’t go five minutes without looking at our phone or giving up on an article on Medium when it says it will take 12 minutes to read.

It’s important to note that giving into distraction is nothing new for us, in fact, it’s always been a part of our nature. In Catherine Price’s book, How to break up with your phone, Price talks about humans being naturally distractible because, in nature, there are things often trying to kill us. So we need our attention to shift focus on changes to our environment, to keep us out of danger.

It’s also worth mentioning that not everyone is battling with this issue, but for those of us that are, it may be a problem that we were only aware of subconsciously, until now.

In this essay, I’ll share my observations, research and findings for the deteriorating attention span, and answer the important question, can it be fixed? There is a wealth of arguments and opinions on this subject, some that I feel are very accurate in identifying the problem and others that are quick to point the finger at a certain object or concept.

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