Saturday, October 4, 2014

Are we becoming like goldfish?


                                                                   




The title of this post comes from an article by McLean Greaves in Zoomer Magazine's September issue entitled 10 Reasons Why Almost Every Internet Article is a List.   A point permeating the reasons is the decreased ability  of readers to stay focussed today, according to Greaves.  He goes as far as to say that the human attention span is less than that of a goldfish.



I remember someone telling me once that we shouldn't feel sorry for the pet goldfish, stuck in a small bowl with basically nothing happening all day, save the daily drop from the sky of edible products, hopefully tasty.  The goldfish brain is so small that by the time it completes the circuit around the bowl, its minuscule brain has already completely forgotten what it saw the last time around.   In effect, it is delighted anew with the sights and decor each time.  I don't know if some legitimate scientific experiment was conducted that led to this finding or whether it was the creation of a guilty goldfish owner attempting to assuage his conscience over a tiny bowl. 



Humans have a much greater capacity for memory and attention but suffer from a surfeit of choices. We barely begin to engross ourselves in a lengthy article or novel before a certain restlessness  or sense of time pressure inexorably draws our focus away.  Is the next thing more worthwhile of our attention?

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