I worry about attention spans. I have noticed over recent years that it has become more difficult for me to concentrate on a single task. The expectation of multi-tasking constantly interferes, and I find myself, especially when watching TV, reaching to the web browser to do something else simultaneously. This doesn’t surprise me as I’ve often used TV as background noise, but there are times when I want to pay attention to the TV, but a few minutes lull in the show finds me reaching for something else to occupy my attention.
I’ve witnessed similar behavior in students who constantly need to be reminded ad nauseum regarding due dates, procedures, and announcements. It becomes tiresome and tedious.
I’m also concerned when it comes to readers. How will leisure reading further evolve because of shortened attention spans. Will we see the rise of chapters that are no more than a page long? Will full-length novels disappear in favor of novellas? Novelettes? Short stories? Flash fiction is becoming increasingly popular on the web. Will it permeate into collected fiction as well? Instead of a long, complicated narrative, will it simply be a loose collection of flash fiction vignettes?
I wish I had answers. I wish I could get rid of the foreboding regarding this subject.