Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Why Nobody Can Pay Attention Anymore

Distractions are the new, uh, whatever … Hey, look, a kitten!

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There's a pile of books beside my bed, most of which I've started, few of which I've finished. The last book I finished was a short novel that was compelling enough that I actually went to bed early and finished it over the course of a week earlier this month. But that's rare, these days.

I'm a fast reader, and I used to immerse myself in a book until I turned the last page. Lately, I'm more likely to start a book, set it aside, and never get back to it. My attention span isn't long enough to get me across Lick Creek. I'm running out of bookmarks.

Distractions are the new, you know... whatever. Go see some live music, and half the audience is holding up their phone to put a video on Facebook instead of actually listening to the music. Go out to eat, and you'll often see two people at a table staring at their phones or taking Instagrams of their food, instead of talking and eating. Walking in the woods, communing with nature? Hey, look at that maple foliage! I need to get a picture of that to share. Watching the Grizzlies on TV? It's a lot more fun if you're on Twitter, too. It's called double-screening, and the attendant GIFs, snarky tweets, and Vines just add to the experience. Did you know they're now calling Jon Leuer "Tennessee Dirk"?

Information is served to us like a vast, weird, never-ending buffet where the Cheetos are next to the prime rib, which is next to the gummi bears. Here is a small sampling of Tuesday's headlines on Huffington Post: "Missouri Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Grand Jury Decision"; "Adrian Peterson Suspended for Rest of Season"; "Japanese PM Calls Special Elections as Country Slides Into Recession"; "Hacker Group Goes to War with KKK"; "Why We Never Got Those 250 Emoji We Were Promised"; "You're Buying Your Sheets All Wrong"; "The Three-Minute Skill That Will Totally Change Your Breakfast"; "Legendary Photog Snaps The World's Most Beautiful Women (NSFW)"; "GOP Hires Constitutional Lawyer in Obama Lawsuit."

Where to start? Sure, I need to know about what's going on in Ferguson and in Washington, D.C., but I'm curious about that secret breakfast skill. And I certainly don't want to continue buying my sheets all wrong. And I wonder just how NSFW those pictures are... Oh wait, I just got an email. Hey, someone wants to be my friend on Facebook. Oops, need to answer this text, first. BRB. Oooh, puppy video!

Whew! It's an ADHD world, but I really want to reconnect with that pile of books. Maybe it would help if I started live-tweeting as I read them?

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