Politics, Moderate



Paying attention pays off

Tom Purcell on

Declining attention spans have reached epidemic levels.

That’s what Adam Brown, co-director of the Center for Attention, Learning and Memory at St. Bonaventure University in New York, tells Time.

That’s certainly the case with me.

As I struggled to write the first three paragraphs of this column, I searched autotrader.com for a new car I don’t need or want; searched Facebook Marketplace for lakefront vacation homes I can’t afford; and visited Amazon.com to order more expensive treats for my Labrador, Thurber.

Like millions of others these days, I’m an easy target for clever companies that use the Internet and social media to lure me away from the tasks I should be focusing on.

The sophisticated algorithms that Facebook and others use are masterful at capturing my full attention by feeding me short video reels on car restorations, real estate investing and the dozens of other things they know I’m interested in.


What’s worse is that I’m a sucker for the dopamine hits I get every time my phone pings and I learn that somebody has “liked” or “subscribed” to one of the humorous “Thurber the Talking Lab” videos I’ve posted on youtube.com/@thurberstail.

The more I jump from focusing on one task to another, the shorter my attention span gets.

Brown tells Time that when you pause to check your phone, your brain has to shift gears to stop what it was doing and move to a new task.

He explains that the more we jump tasks, the more our brain wants to wander to find something new that captures its fancy.


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Copyright 2023 Tom Purcell, All Rights Reserved. Credit: Cagle.com




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