The Reason Why Our Attention Span Is Only 8 Seconds Long

The Reason Why Our Attention Span Is Only 8 Seconds Long

When a goldfish can focus longer than us, we know something's wrong.

We've entered a new era. 25% of teens forget major details about their family and close relatives. 7% of people forget their birthdays time to time. Only 50% of people fully read short articles with 100 or less words. What used to be a norm is now a rare occurrence.

I find it hard to maintain focus when reading a book, and I find it hard to stop when I’m scrolling through my Facebook news feed. Surprisingly enough, both of these phenomena are related. Research conducted by Microsoft Corp. shows that our recent decline to a mere 8-second attention span (from 12 seconds in 2000), one second shorter than that of a goldfish's, is largely attributed to the increasing prevalence of technology in our daily routines.

Now here’s the crazy part. Back in 1977, Nobel Prize-winning Herbert Simon predicted that in the future we would have excessive information at our fingertips. He forewarned us that copious information would consume “the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” This “poverty of attention” that Simon refers to is the reason why we can no longer read books for hours on end, or finish an entire article without zoning out and losing focus. You may be asking yourself, why in the world would having easily-accessible information be detrimental to our attention span? Shouldn’t more information make us smarter?

This is where we step back, and aggregately take a look at the type of “information” that is most viewed today. It is the fast-paced texting done over smartphones, devices actively used everyday by 72% of the U.S teen population, that are mostly responsible for lowering our attention spans. The instant gratification received from reading a quick and easy line of text from a friend can’t be replicated by reading a descriptive article or a book. When you multiply the act of reading one text message by a hundred, and over a relatively short period of time, you get discontinuous bursts of superficial focus instead of the continuous, in-depth focus received from reading a book. Using your phone like this on a daily basis will slowly rewire your brain to be used to the instant pleasure and closure that reading a text gives you, and thus serves as the reason for why we zone out while reading books: the content comes gradually, and the purpose won’t be understood until many sentences are read without a break— pretty daunting for texters, right?

The U.S National Library of Medicine’s research confirmed this to be true by showing that 20% of online article views in 2015 were shorter than 4 seconds long. Furthermore, their research also revealed that only 4% of people viewed an article for over 10 minutes. This manifests the growing deficit in our attention span towards reading and other activities that require continuous and acute focus. We need to cut down on our fast-paced and repetitive acts of refreshing our inboxes, scrolling through our news feeds, and texting excessively.

In the future, we can prevent this decrease in attention by distancing ourselves from our devices when they aren’t necessary. It’s as simple as that. So let’s hope that the next time someone tells us to “pay attention”, we truly can.

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.

Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.


Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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To White People, Politics Are Not Worth Ruining Christmas

People of color don't have the same privilege.


In a recent article, it was stressed that instead of ruining memories being made, you should set aside political differences during the holidays and focus on family. The author stressed the importance of recognizing the birth of Jesus and that politics "are not worth hating family members over."

While initially this sounds like an appealing idea considering the holidays are supposed to be a happy time, it's only plausible for White people.

White people are not tied to politics the same way people of color are, and thus they can choose when to push the boundaries of their political views and who to end relationships with.

To White people, including this author, politics are a debate or a mild entertainment. They become a hobby to be interested in politics and they believe political actions can only offend someone, not completely shape their lives.

White people have the choice to "be political" or ignore it completely. They could live their entire lives without dipping their toes into politics and absolutely nothing about their lives would be different.

As a result of institutionalized racism and a system built on White supremacy, people of color live out their political ideals daily. They benefit from what they believe in, but they also suffer from what others do not even bother to believe in. They have to fight extra hard just to be included in the political conversation when White people have complete access and often choose not to use it.

When I meet someone new on my college campus, a point of conversation is usually whether they are political or not. Often people say it's too exhausting to keep up with political news or they just don't care. If they don't see that it directly affects them, they won't get involved because they don't have to.

While the article had good intentions, it stank of White privilege. The ability to avoid political discussion to focus on baby Jesus and your racist family members? Believing politics are simply "provocative" and not a daily struggle for civil and economic rights? Thinking your desire to not associate with racist, homophobic, and xenophobic family members is a "personal agenda"?

White privilege.

White people believe there are "proper places and times for [political] discussions," as if it doesn't continue to affect people of color every second of their lives.

The author finishes with an encouragement to forget the "pointless debates" and enjoy your family at Christmas. Your family is your first contact as you grow up and you will forever be linked to them in some way. They influence you as much as you influence them. If you don't bring up these political conversations, when will our country ever grow? Where is the appropriate time to talk about politics? When White people feel good and ready to do it?

Bring up politics at your Christmas table and don't be afraid of hurting feelings. Changing our political atmosphere starts on a small scale and this suppression of political discussion is only going to tear us further apart.

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