There was a time, long ago, when people sat down at night and read entire books in one sitting. It’s fairly tough to imagine – sitting in one spot, staring intently at a book for an hour or more without looking up to check your phone or scroll through social media, read some bizarre article on any number of news sites or flip through memes, desperate for fresh content on the Internet.
This type of fierce concentration is hard to come by today – at least with as far as the current generation goes – the one that grew up with the Internet. The internet and the way we consume content has radically altered our attention spans, and this has consequently changed the way in which content is made for us.
How We’re Fed Content On The Internet
Whereas television was the dominant medium from the 50s onwards, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other portable devices have since dethroned the TV as the king of content. Very rarely does any Millennial or younger person sit down in front of a TV to watch the scheduled news. It doesn’t make sense when considering that we can log on to any number of free news sites and get the latest news from around the world instantly.
The same is true of the actual shows we watch and media that we consume. Why watch scheduled TV shows when you can just as easily go on Netflix and binge-watch an entire season of your favorite science-fiction show immediately? It no longer makes sense to pay for cable when limitless amounts of films and series are online for a paltry sum each month.
These shows are also adapted to our shorter attention spans – for instance, one of the platform’s hit new shows, “The End of the F***ing World” has episodes which are only 20 minutes long. We have an insatiable desire for new content and it’s the reason why Netflix and Amazon drop entire seasons on us at once.
Snackable Content – Smaller And Easier To Digest
Yet it’s not only shows that are getting shorter – the actual content we consume has shrunk too. Web content – that is videos, pictures, memes and other forms – is now served in micro doses. Most of this is found on social media sites but is a testament to just how short our attention spans have become. It’s a type of storytelling called snackable content and hooks a reader on an emotional level, but does so quickly without requiring too much of the reader’s time. This allows readers to consume these bite-sized chunks of content while quickly moving on to the newer and fresher stories.
The downside of this, however, is that longer form pieces get pushed to the wayside. So if you’re down here at the bottom reading this, congratulations; your attention span might still not be too far gone yet.
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