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Is there an adult in America today who doesn’t wonder, if they haven’t already been diagnosed, that they might have attention-deficit disorder? (And if there is, can they tell me their secret?)
A study done at Harvard in 2010 showed that people’s minds are not on the task at hand 47% of the time.
This New York Times columnist, quoting a survey, says currently the average human attention span is eight seconds, shorter than that of a goldfish.
That sounds about right.
As I’ve sat here, my daughter, away at college, texted me. So did several other people, including a spammer. Even if I don’t respond, I look: Who is it? Is it an emergency?
Then, the stupid thing beeps a second time several seconds later.
I supposed I could figure out how to reset that.
But meanwhile, since I looked, I see my mom responded to my email.
Oh, and I have some notifications from Facebook.
Facebook is its own particular distraction vortex. Oh, awful: A childhood classmate died. Oh, sweet: Another is getting married. Oh, a sponsored ad is looking for women who suffer from ovarian cancer who used talcum powder. Is that something to worry about? Oh, I feel sick: A video automatically plays of an abused dog so skinny, he can’t stand. Oh, but there are some sweet horses or goats or kittens or babies who are obviously doted on … My brain struggles to process all of this.
Where was I? Oh, yes, distraction.
But who am I kidding? I can remember the pre-Internet days. And I distinctly remember veering away from tasks I didn’t want to do.
Attention, at least for me, is this fleeting, fluttering, easily damaged thing.
It’s like herding butterflies.
And I still don’t have the hang of it.