The Information Age has changed the way we think and communicate. The advent of modern computers and the Internet have given us the ability to create, duplicate and access information like never before. On the downside, our attention span becomes limited and we’re not able to stay focused for nearly as long as our ancestors before us.
10 Facts about Information Overload and Shrinking Attention Spans
1. The estimated attention span in 1998 was 12 minutes.
2. The estimated attention span in 2008 was only 5 minutes.
3. We receive 5 times more information daily than we did in 1986.
4. The average person is exposed to the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data per day.
5. There are about 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information floating around the world, equaling 315 times the number of grains of sand on the Earth.
6. Humankind can store more than 300 exabytes of information in their technological devices.
7. There are roughly as many stars in our galaxy as the average amount of information filled bits per person.
8. In an effort to maintain an optimal processing speed, the human brain filters incoming data, discarding 99% of all sensory information immediately after perceiving it (Patricia Wolfe, Brain Matters).
9. Information must be somewhat unusual in order to attract the brain’s attention (Patricia Wolfe, Brain Matters).
10. According to ComScore, the average length of online video watched by Americans has decreased over the last year from nearly 7 minutes to just over 5 minutes.
The Internet doesn’t want you to have a long attention span. Digital media is designed to be clicked, consumed, and shared as quickly as possible. Ad revenue is driven by clicks, not by how many people actually read an article or watch an entire video. Digital content creators are not financially rewarded for generating impeccably written, thought-provoking articles and videos, they are rewarded for creating content that goes viral, fast. So don’t feel bad, it’s not your fault that you have a short attention span, it’s the Internet’s fault.