The Snapchat Effect
The world is full of people using Snapchat.
While this may be efficient for communication, what it does to our attention span is scary.
The amount of information being thrown at us by the day, hour, and minute has led us to placing such a high value on efficiency that skimming information has basically become hard-wired into our DNA.
But there is an issue with this.
The higher we value efficiency, the less we seem to value information, and as Gordon Gekko says,
“The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”
I’m not coming down on the idea of being efficient. I’m simply stating that it is extremely difficult to learn anything new or retain knowledge if we only read or listen to a quarter of the information while only paying half attention.
The next time you read a book, watch a TED Talk, click on an article, peruse your e-mail, or attend an event, here is a quick list of tips:
- Give it your full attention. If you need to set it down and come back to it later, fine, but at least you aren’t doing it halfway.
- Reflect on what you’ve just read, seen, or experienced. Let it sink in. In this way, you will better be able to remember it at relevant times in the future.
- Don’t procrastinate. If you get an e-mail, read it fully, answer it fully, and move on. When things pile up, you’ll need to catch up, and this will suck your time and attention.
So continue to use Snapchat. I don’t mind at all. But also commit to dedicating time and attention when necessary, and if you’ve gotten to this sentence without skimming the post, you’re on the right track.