Tuesday 13 February 2024

Reduced Attention Span

I know from posts I’ve seen online that a lot of people came out of the pandemic with a reduced attention span. I used to read for hours at a time, lost in the story. Now it sees like anytime I open a book it’s a real struggle to finish a chapter, a page, a paragraph. No matter how interesting the characters or plot, I have a hard time keeping my mind focused on what I’m doing. So many other things try to intrude. I’m reading more history books, which means I often pause to look up new information or other books being referenced to check out later. I’ve started forcing myself to sit still and read, but even then, chores, shopping lists, random thoughts intrude, making it hard to concentrate. And there’s always social media, that time sink that makes it feel like you’re connecting with the world when you’re really just becoming more and more isolated in your own private echo chamber.

I’m planning another research trip which is eating up the majority of my time. I haven’t been taking on many review requests as a result. Haven’t been reading much fiction at all. Last year I only read 28 books, 18 of which were fiction. Two of those were graphic novels, three more were Dante’s Divine Comedy (are those fiction? poetry? religious philosophy? not really sure). I keep thinking I can read on my trips, but the stress involved means I REALLY do not have the concentration required. So I’ve gravitated to watching more movies and TV shows.

I read an article recently by a professor lamenting that kids these days haven’t learned the skill of reading. That the instant gratification of social media has lowered attention spans and that schools haven’t focused on the skill that is sitting still and concentrating on a single task. I’m realizing that sitting still is a skill to be cultivated. And I think a lot of us have lost it.

I also think I need to prioritize pleasure reading more. Accomplishing tasks is great and research is wonderful, but all stress and no down time make for people who don’t handle the challenges of life very well. The world keeps telling us that we need to earn money from everything we do, that all our hobbies should be second or third jobs. I have found that when I review all the movies I watch I don’t enjoy them as much. There is real work involved in thinking critically about media. This blog started out as a way to market myself and my writing. I know how hard it is to find good media, and how hard it is to be seen, so for years this blog’s been about pointing out books and movies I thought were interesting and worth checking out.

So this blog’s been declining in terms of content. I post book reviews when I have them. I’ve got a religious book review coming soon, and a few science fiction books I’ve received advance reading copies of. This year will probably be another lean year. Hopefully I’ll have more time for leisure reading come autumn, after my trip.

I’m currently reading Cascade Failure by L. M. Sagas, and it’s very tense. I’m enjoying it a lot. And managing to read a couple of chapters before my brain tells me to get back to research.

No comments: