CLICK ME! (Or How the Internet Ruined our Attention Spans.)

You’ve probably stopped reading already. No? But look! Look at all the text that lies below this sentence. Surely you cannot endure sitting down for five minutes and reading all of this article? I better put a picture in to help guide you through.

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Better? Good. The Internet has ruined our attention spans. This should already be evident to most people but I think the point needs re-iterating. I’ve just been reading an article about the Twitch Pokemon game and how fads burn out very quickly. It quotes the Harlem Shake, Gangnam Style and all sorts of recent internet phenomenons which generate their own culture of popularity and then disappear within weeks…

This rapid rise and fall of popular culture got me thinking and basically I realised my poor little brain cannot cope with the amount of change going on at the moment. I have a horrific habit of just reading anything on the internet – especially now that I have a smart phone. I just spend hours of my days reading articles about the economic growth of Nigeria on the BBC, or what type of bread that I am on Buzzfeed. I am fluent in information that really is generally useless for my life but yet I continue to read it because in my head I make it relevant.

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What I really should be doing is learning some recipes or writing a blog about my thoughts. I shouldn’t be spending hours of my life looking at shit that doesn’t matter on the internet. I should make my own mark rather than being buffeted around by someone else’s labours. It’s like living your life through someone else or, more worryingly, like being controlled by a thirst for knowledge that I just don’t need. It’s probably some government plan to try and pacify the human population by strangling them with news and entertainment that prevents them from developing a need to challenge their status quo but who fucking cares eh? Strictly is on the BBC.

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The problem with the Internet is that the whole world now competes for your attention rather than just those people around you. People worried about the TV taking over our lives. You can add video games to that list and now the internet with social media, 24 news networks and everything else you could possibly (think you) want. Our lives are filled with fads which occupy our time but my real worry is that are we filling our time correctly? Should we not perhaps switch off some of the things we don’t need? I used to be okay watching the news when I caught a news bulletin but now I find myself just flicking through my phone multiple times a day in order to keep abreast of the latest crisis (which will be forgotten about in a week).

Please don’t misunderstand me, entertainment and news are both important things in our lives and social media is a powerful tool for keeping in touch with friends and sharing our experiences; I just think there is a point where you can go to far.

Ultimately, I have somehow fallen into a trap. This trap is a prison of information from which I am struggling to escape and it is making me waste my life. There is always a need for entertainment and news but like an addict I think I need to control my intake. Worse is that I know that I am not the only person in this trap. We are addicted to the money shots of the digital age. A little red symbol at the top of Facebook, the live stream of the latest conflict, levelling up in COD. A little bit every so often is okay but when you are neglecting your own existence to follow those of others then you’re basically failing at life.

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