Wow it looks so real, said the middle-aged woman sitting next to me on the plane. Both of us were watching the young guy in the middle seat playing a game on his laptop. Yeah the new graphic technology is fantastic, I replied.
Yet to the guy sitting between us playing his game, it was all part of the status quo. I am sure he was wondering what rocks us “old folks” had crawled out from under.
I believe this story illustrates a dichotomy of a generation and what they place their priorities on.
While he was more interested in getting to the next level, she was probably wondering why anyone would waste his or her time on such a meaningless endeavor.
Where are we going?
Over the years our modern society has become geared to be fast, flashy, and short-lived. As an entrepreneur and college professor I have seen how this new “digital age” has affected our current short attention spanned generation.
Think about it, Disneyland found a way to make the dull process of standing in line, almost fun. They did this by wrapping waiting lines around eye, ear, and nose catchy sites. Cleverly hidden speakers fill the air with themed music that seems to come out of nowhere. Flashing signs, characters, shows, and parades are provided to constantly keep your attention away from our tired feet. Food places, carts, and restaurants surround various rides just tempting us to jump out of line to buy a churro or some other treat.
Finding Focus – Where did we go wrong
- Eating went from a slow-paced family oriented activity to microwaveable meals, drive through lanes, inexpensive fast food, and many waitresses, greeters, busboys, short-order cooks, and others ready to quickly serve your every need. This is all so we can hurry on our way to other “more important” things.
- Movies used to focus on character development and story lines. Today high paid actors, million dollar budgets, flashy special effects, fast-moving action, and slapstick mindless comedy rule the box-office.
- Communicating with each other went from meeting together and socializing, to sitting around a table on our cell phones, or sitting alone chatting on some digital device.
- Playing games went from sitting around tables, or other forms of human interaction, to realistic video games, on-line gaming, and making your own life in some virtual role-playing digital world.
- Twitter & Facebook took the idea of short and sweet to a new level. On their own, these are great tools for getting out simple messages, but when it becomes the focus of our communication abilities than it drives us closer to becoming the epitome of a short-attention-span-generation. Brevity is the soul of wit, but not the soul of communicating with other humans.
Finding Focus: Individually Alright, Together Problematic
Now none of these are necessarily a problem, but when joined together, they put a heavy pressure on our minds to focus on the quick and easy.
We are all creatures of habit by nature. When we begin to surround ourselves with things that need short-lived focus, these will become part of our habitual routines. Over time, our minds will merge these activities into other areas of our lives as well.
If this goes on long enough, we will train ourselves right out of the ability of being able to focus on reading material, conversations, work, interpersonal communication, and even our relationships for longer or more extended periods of time.
Finding Focus: 4 Ideas to Avoid These Traps?
- First of all we can try leaving our cell phone or digital device behind when we go out, or meet with people.
- We may also want to spend time reading a good book, watching a documentary series, taking a long walk focusing on your surroundings more often.
- Sometime it helps to expand our mind by starting a new hobby, spend time writing, or other activities that need longer periods of focus and concentration.
- By performing tasks that require us to stretch our abilities and concentrate our focus we can train our brains, just like we do our muscles.
Finding Focus in an Unfocused World
When it comes to finding focus, let’s rebel against the status quo and stop getting swept along by all the new gizmos and fads that keep us from paying attention to what really matters….