The Myth of Fractured Attention Spans
Business Blog / March 3, 2016
We tweet. We Snapchat. We ’gram. Flocks of texts stream across our tiny screens, beeping for attention. Telegram, Vine, Messenger—we are information whales, sucking up our nutrition from scads of tiny bits of binary krill that flow by, day in and day out.
This is, of course, old news. Yes, yes, we’ve heard it before: Our attention spans are getting smaller as we multitask to incorporate the myriad ways we ingest small chunks of information.
But to believe that, and that alone, belies a cultural shift that’s playing out in the opposite direction: We crave real substance—and are finding it in the most unlikely places. Where once we watched “appointment” TV, delivered in half-hour segments, now we binge, voraciously and without surcease. No one thinks twice about sitting down over the course of a week (or weekend!) to watch a 60-hour series. Or listen to the 16-hour-long two-season Serial podcast. Even books, those hoary, hidebound things, are enjoying a renaissance.
People, we’re learning, like to think—deeply and hard. We like to concentrate and get immersed in our passions and use the parts of our brains that transport us outside of ourselves. This is how we learn. It is how we stretch and grow.
We observe this trend on Flipboard as well: users become highly engaged when they follow the things they truly care about. They are far more likely to become intensive users when they use Flipboard to dive deep into their passions, ranging from modern art to education and from travel to home improvement. That’s when we see session times increase, especially in the evening and on weekends.
You should not be surprised. You’ve read this far, right?
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