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How Social Media Has Ruined the Attention Span and Interest in Longer Forms of Literature

Social Media Has Ruined the Attention Span 


Social media has long been touted for its effective ability to connect users and bring family and friends together that might not otherwise keep in touch. But for all the positive qualities of social media, there is a downside as well. Social media has effectively destroyed the attention span of an entire generation. As users comment on posts with the Internet slang "tl;dr" which effectively translates to, "too long, didn't read" the evidence begins to become clear that the Internet and social media has dampened our ability to read longer forms of literature. 

Take the content farm model most readily exhibited by Demand Media's eHow property.

The entire site consists of millions of articles about anything you could possibly imagine. Users click to the website after finding something of interest in the search results. After skimming through a useless introduction the reader may spend another few seconds on the site before running off to click on an advertisement on the side of the page. Social media has made it possible for companies like this to exist. Individuals with longer attention spans would search for authoritative information found in books. But, with the advent of social media, that job has been relegated to the Internet, where the answers to your latest bout of indigestion spark concerns about whether you are suffering from some rare and impossible to catch form of encephalitis; from a country you have never visited. 

Twitter thrives on "tweets" that are 140 characters or less. 140 characters used to be considered a short and curt note. 

People would take offense to a note that was only 140 characters. But now, it is the norm and if you dare say anything longer that 140 characters then your thoughts are considered too complex and re-education is necessary. The modern day Internet environment is a sea of information in which everyone has something to say, but nothing said has any lasting value. The goal of social media is to perform and act, impress your friends and get the most "likes" possible before the newsfeed expires and someone else trumps your sense of humor. It is a constant battle for attention that creates an impulse-driven society. 

In the end, the ability for a reader to engage in a longer form of literature may not be completely to blame on social media sites.

However, it is certainly within the realm of possibility and reasonable to think that social media, through its short status updates and overly simplified mode of relaying information, has greatly affected the world's ability to pay attention and sit down with a good book for more than 10 minutes at a time. Information is so easy to come by now, that rather than actually reading a book for a class, it is possible to Google 1,000 different opinions on a particular piece of literature. Why bother reading the book, when you can just spin content online in a fraction of the time? If this is the new model of education, it is very likely that social media will start doing our thinking for us too.

Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at : Led TV

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