Short Attention Span Syndrome

At first I thought it was either my imagination, some unfortunate coincidences at work or the possibility I was intermittently turning invisible. For some time, I’d been running into people with what appeared to be some sort of bizarre communication deficit. A typical example would be meeting someone in the workplace, having them ask you a question, then wandering off, perhaps in mid-sentence, before you finished an answer. Because I work with lawyers, I thought this was just an example of the self-absorption factor at work.

While I was in a hospital waiting room the other day,  I picked up a copy of Toronto Life Magazine and came upon a feature piece by a Ryerson University professor bemoaning the work, classroom and study skills of his students. He referred to some research that suggests the tidal wave of ever-present media and the perpetual “wired-ness” of young people, is “re-tasking” neural pathways, resulting in a kind of accelerated evolution of the brain.

While this is good news for gamers, texters and social media devotees (particularly with Twitter) it’s very bad news for a lot of the traditional skills associated with academic life and pursuits. (It also does help to explain my query though.)

The ‘symptoms’ of this evolution revolve around attention span – the facility for sustained focus, persistence and detail. Purportedly, they’re reduced profoundly. It sounds a lot like a speedy evolution into perpetual attention deficit disorder. Kind of a scary direction, if you ask me.

I suspect this might also tie into the evolution of the “multi-tasking” environment we increasingly live in. While some may loudly trumpet their ability to juggle numerous tasks at the same time, I’ve concluded this represents both an extreme application of the SAS syndrome and and invitation to do a number of things badly, albeit at the same time. I’ll try and stick to one, thank you.

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2 Responses to Short Attention Span Syndrome

  1. Keri says:

    Multi-tasking was the catch-phrase of yesterday and everyone was supposed to have many balls up in the air all at once or be considered that of lacking in efficiencies. We evolved into a workforce where finishing nothing became the status quo along with the inevitable trailing off mid…

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for your comment. Is it really “yesterday”, or just getting worse?