Friday, May 14, 2010

9 Seconds...That's All We Have...

9 seconds…that’s all we have. Just 9 seconds. I just finished reading a blog from Sally Hogshead ...the average attention span of people today is 9 seconds. That certainly explains a few things!

That explains why the little 4 year old girl in front of me in church was on the chair, off the chair, on the chair and off the chair again – her 9 seconds was over. It explains why my 12 year old daughter was frustrated because she could not focus on her homework anymore at 10 p.m. – her 9 seconds was over. And it explains why I have started and stopped writing this blog post three times – my 9 seconds expired.

Okay, all kidding aside, does that statistic startle anyone? Truthfully, if we think about all the technology that we have at our fingertips today, this statistic makes quite a bit of sense! We live in a microwave society. We want everything now…well…there ARE times when I actually would like somethings done so fast I wish it was done yesterday. (But that is another story) Admit it, we hate to wait. I have said many times, we no longer go find the news and happenings from around the world; they find us. With the internet, that can happen. You know what is really annoying, is when you are holding your laptop on your lap while eating a cracker and the crumbs fall on the mouse pad. That is really annoying…oh wait…where was I? I think my 9 seconds just expired.

See how quickly that can happen? Yes, that was a shameless example to make my point, but it actually did happen, so that is worth something, right?

So now you are asking, how can we change this statistic of a 9 second attention span? Might I suggest that we ask a different question? Since the task of increasing our attention span seems quite daunting, how about if we:
  • understand that we live in the Information Age
  • realize that technology keeps changing, growing and making us better
  • recognize that the speed and efficiency of our media continually increases
  • accept the fact that we have an attention span of 9 seconds
  • stop fighting it and start working with the statistic
Some ways to work with our reality:
  • Realize I may need to prep my kid before church to help her understand that she needs to ‘chill out’ for bit while in church and THEN get to release her energy by playing outside AFTER (or if all else fails, just suck it up as the parent for the time being because they will grow out of this stage)
  • Know that my kid may need to do a little homework, take a break and play and then go back and do more homework later
  • Accept that I may not finish writing my blog post all in one sitting – life sometimes intervenes and that is okay – especially if it is my family, because I know that I will eventually finish the post
As I leave you to ponder on these thoughts, I want to share a terrific quote I read on Michael Hyatt’s blog (the CEO to Thomas Nelson Publishing) from P. J. O’Rourke on how easy it is to get distracted when you are writing:

“Usually, writers will do anything to avoid writing. For instance, the previous sentence was written at one o’clock this afternoon. It is now a quarter to four. I have spent the past two hours and forty-five minutes sorting my neckties by width, looking up the word “paisley” in three dictionaries, attempting to find the town of that name on The New York Times Atlas of the World map of Scotland, sorting my reference books by width, trying to get the bookcase to stop wobbling by stuffing a matchbook cover under its corner, dialing the telephone number on the matchbook cover to see if I should take computer courses at night, looking at the computer ads in the newspaper and deciding to buy a computer because writing seems to be so difficult on my old Remington, reading an interesting article on sorghum farming in Uruguay that was in the newspaper next to the computer ads, cutting that and other interesting articles out of the newspaper, sorting—by width—all the interesting articles I’ve cut out of newspapers recently, fastening them neatly together with paper clips and making a very attractive paper clip necklace and bracelet set, which I will present to my girlfriend as soon as she comes home from the three-hour low-impact aerobic workout that I made her go to so I could have some time alone to write.”

9 seconds…that’s all we have. Just 9 seconds.

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