Our attention spans are such funny things. Mine seems to be pretty short, anyway. Whether I’m reading something for class or writing a paper. The first chapter of Rheingold’s Net Smart discusses, at length, attention. Our assignment in ENG3241 was to read the chapter and document how often we were distracted. Rheingold argues that perhaps as proficient computer users, we are constantly distracted by popups and other technologies. That we’re accustoming ourselves to check different things more frequently. I myself always flip to the end of the chapter to see how long it is or check my Facebook or Twitter accounts, just to give myself frequent breaks that I feel improve my performance. Even if I’m watching my favorite TV show, Monday Night RAW, that recently expanded its program to three hours a week, I constantly find myself going, “Wait. What happened? I missed it. …If only I hadn’t been watching the latest Jenna Marbles vlog.” Okay, truth be told, I’d seen that Jenna Marbles vlog a couple of times already. Three hours can be a lot of men-in-tights, male-soap-opera-driven content, even for a die-hard fan of over 20 years like myself. Even now, while the topic is still attention, this blog has somehow manifested into a one-sided conversation about professional wrestling and Jenna Marbles. Maybe that has more to do with the Monster Energy drink I just chugged more so than my attention span, though. At any rate, aren’t attention spans funny things?
I like how Rheingold touches on how, as a writer for 25 years, he has been forced to sit isolated in a room writing and how that has urged him to be socially interactive by going outside and chatting with neighbors or whatever the case may be. I think that’s something, especially with kids, that’s really missing today. Every kid seems to have an iPhone, or at least their parents’, they all have X-Box’s or Playstations, and many of them know more about the television than I do, and that’s a lot. When I was a kid… Listen to me, “when I was a kid!” As if I’m 75 years old… When I was a kid, we had Nintendos, but they were nowhere near as cool as what kids have today. We had action figures that did three basic movements, they could move their legs and arms and use karate chop action. Now the kids toys can do anything imaginable. We used our imaginations, something I fear is seriously lacking in kids today, because we had to go outside. Our parents made us. We had to pick up a stick and use it as a pretend gun to ward off imaginary, enemy invaders. It helped our imaginations grow, as well as our social skills with other kids and later other grownups.