blog/On Attention Span

Published 2020-03-04

Fittingly brief piece on our decreasing attention spans in this tweetable era. Krish’s thesis is that the problem can’t be solved from a capitalist perspective because companies sell what people want, so instead of trying to solve it we should adapt to it, be prepared for it, and think about how our thinking and communication will be changed in the long term.

Krish suggests that while our intra-personal communication will become decreasingly verbose, it may also become increasingly efficient, until we no longer need to use words and can communicate sensations directly, and that this could have beneficial implications for equality and education, as communication/language barriers will cease to be barriers to understanding.

There’s a cameo from Kanye in the article, who has an interesting take. Awesome:

I don’t think people are going to talk in the future…They’re going to communicate through eye contact, body language, emojis, signs. Imagine that. If everyone was forced to learn sign language. Source

It’s an interesting take, but I feel it’s rather optimistic about the outcome of decreasing attention spans. I think if we lose our ability to focus for longer than the length of a tweet we won’t possibly be capable of implementing the required drastic changes to adapt to what we’re talking about.

I’m also less pessimistic, in a way: I don’t think this is an inevitability. While it’s true that attention spans are surely decreasing, I think people recognize it as a problem in themselves and will strive to overcome.

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