For those of you who admit to having a short attention span and feel like it’s a bad thing (because society tells us so), you’re in for a surprise. Rest assured, you’re not alone if you have the short attention “problem.” How much time do you spend checking your emails, texts, and newsfeeds every day? In today’s rapidly growing and changing digital age, it’s hard not to be plugged in 24/7. It used to be a matter of turning on the TV or radio to find out what’s going on in the world, but now, thanks to the ever-changing media landscape, you can find out immediately. More often than not, Twitter is the first to report breaking news. Many with digital jobs are used to multitasking and browsing countless sites per day, absorbing a ridiculous amount of information in a short period of time. Naturally, this can lead to a lack of concentration and difficulty focusing on one thing at a time.
“The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds—the same as a goldfish,” Ted Selker, then of MIT’s famed Media Lab, told BBC back in 2002. “Our attention span gets affected by the way we do things.”
With an abundant stream of information only a tap or swipe away, the average consumer’s attention span has decreased dramatically. According to a recent study, approximately 33 percent of Internet users will leave a site that loads slowly. But should this statistic be that shocking? I’m not so sure. We live in world of instant gratification, and we’ve become accustomed to readily available high speed Internet access.
What is surprising is that our shorter attention spans may be enriching our lives and benefiting us in other ways. In previous generations, people didn’t have high-tech toys and expensive gadgets. As a result, they were more comfortable taking the time to do things at a more leisurely pace. Today we live in such a fast-paced world that if we’re not plugged in we won’t keep up. This could arguably speed up the pace of invention and drive innovation in numerous fields and industries.
Abandoning a slow-loading website is simply the result of an internal cost/benefit analysis, The Guardian reports. Contrary to popular belief, commercial advertisements that are longer in length can perform very well with the right strategy. When it comes down to it, consumers with short attention spans still value quality, and will wait if they think it’s worth it.