The fact that humans have increasingly shorter attention spans thanks to our ever-increasing addiction to technology is old news, but at the time that the research study came out, I didn’t feel like I was one of the mental victims of smartphones. I was still able to read multi-page, in-depth articles before my mind started to wander and I had no idea what TLDR even stood for. I also read. A lot. And when this study was published in 2016, most of the books I read were still made of actual paper and not in electronic form.
Two years later, though, it’s a different story. I barely have the ability to get through an entire magazine, and when I recently picked up my (ebook) copy of Pride & Prejudice, which I have read more times than I can count, my mind drifted while I glossed over the eloquent language that I had once devoured with pleasure.
When I check the news (via my phone), I rarely make it much further than the headlines before my brain starts to drift, and the articles that I do read tend to be the ones focused on Lifestyle, and less on in-depth, serious reporting.
I didn’t realize I had a problem until I tried to read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Only a few years ago, I would have ripped through the pages in record speed, and now I am struggling to get past the first few pages. The discovery of my reduced attention span is personally humiliating. Help is clearly needed.
It’s often said that the first step towards recovery being able to admit that you have a problem in the first place. As part of my treatment, I have started to re-read Pride & Prejudice – while my end goal is to be able to read The Age of Innocence, I figured I should start with a story that I already know inside and out.
My next step towards recovery is to… (excuse me while I check my phone.)
…Ok, I’m back. Someone just sent me an image of cheese, so clearly I needed to stop what I was doing to look at it.
What was I saying? Oh right. My next step towards recovery is to try to ignore my phone when I am in the middle of other things, like working or hanging out with people. So far so good, right?
I’ll report back if I ever manage to get to Edith Wharton’s book. Fingers crossed.