The truth is out there, but are you willing to wait


Emma Smith
edited by Charlotte Graham-Spouge

1,2,3,4 …
Still reading? If I was a webpage you would have dropped me quicker than a Drake track. Hostingfacts.com reported 40% of web users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. With those odds 4 of you that were reading would not have even finished this paragraph!

So, what does this say about our generation? We were born into a world with great technological advances. We are the digital natives of our time. We have the tools and know how to use them. But, are these modern conveniences damaging our health?

No, but possibly our attention spans. The Pew Research Centre in America recently reported that 87% of 2,500 teachers that were surveyed felt modern technologies were creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans”.

 

We are the digital natives of our time

 

It has also been widely reported by Microsoft Corp, that the average human attention span has significantly reduced from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds today. For those of you who happen to own a gold friend of the fish variety, this is one second less than their attention span! Worrying odds, if you take the time to think about it.

Where are we going wrong? We are developing a thirst for on demand information and news. Our desire to occupy our time with games and easily-digested information is now a commodity; one that has been facilitated with fake news sites such as Buzz FeedInfo Wars and The Reporterz. These are sites that are strategically developed to capture your waning attention for those moments when you find yourself seeking a little distraction.

Apart from a reduction in patience and attention spans, there is a cost to our entertainment interludes. A young teen in Macedonia profited no less than $60,000 in six months from setting up over 140 US politics websites, publicising fake news in relation to Donald Trump’s election campaign. At his 18th birthday, photos of him were publicised drinking champagne and quite possibly considering purchasing his own apartment outright.

But, there can be dire effects to fake news and a quest for boredom extracting gratification. The victims. Fake news has them more than anyone and, whether you chose to believe it or not, the story is already out there and the damage done. Fake news stories are like rumours; they spread fast and, with each retelling or reposting, they grow in stature.

 

Fake news stories are like rumours

 

In 1987 Corona was one of the number 2 selling imported beers in America. But, when a rumour was started that “Corona beer literally has urine in it”, sales plummeted. Of course, it was not true and supposedly started by a rival distributor (Heineken) but the damage had been done. The brilliance of this story is I am myself now questioning the validity of this report!

Similarly, many of us questioned the events surrounding President Donald Trump’s first press conference in six months.

When President Trump blamed the Intelligence Service, likened them to “the Nazis” and repeated the words “fake news” whilst theatrically pointing to the audience, it was akin to scenes in one of his television shows. Ultimately, it brought to light the power of a fake story and how, certainly in this case, it can be used as a weapon.

Irrespective of whether the news was fake or not, the only memory its viewers and listeners had of the press conference was Donald Trump telling a CNN reporter to “be quiet” and accusing the CNN organisation of “being terrible”.

Therefore, are we creating a society of attention-shortened and simple individuals who believe all that they see and read when it comes to news? Or, are we training a generation to question all that they see and hear?

The true answer is that we do not know and will not for years to come. The benefit of foresight is wonderful but, without it, is life not more colourful and interesting?

Maybe we should all “think before we click” and learn to “embrace the boredom”.

 

Banner image: Kevin Michael Klipfel

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