In today’s fast-paced world, our attention spans are shrinking. This phenomenon, explored in Johann Hari’s book “Stolen Focus,” is a result of the “Age of Acceleration,” where everything is happening faster and more frequently, leaving us struggling to keep up.

Researchers have found that focus has decreased every decade since the 1880s. As civilization became more technological, our focus has decreased at an alarming rate. While it’s tempting to blame technology like email and social media, the issue runs deeper.

Our brains, which haven’t significantly changed their capacity to receive and sort environmental inputs in around 40,000 years, are now dealing with an information overload. We tend to gravitate towards things that describe danger or outrage, much like our propensity to slow down and look at a car accident.

A study of Twitter trends from 2013 to 2016 found that the amount of time an “important” thread trended and stayed top-of-mind decreased from over 17 hours in 2013, to just 11.6 hours in 2016. This suggests that the public’s attention span is shortening.

“Outrage” fuels clicks, and social media and news sites use algorithms to promote that outrage to hook you into viewing more. Misleadingly titled articles, whack-a-doodle viewpoints, and controversial videos are all strategically placed by these algorithms to keep you engaged.

Most sites now use “Infinite Scroll,” a technology that provides you with an endless web page with new content coming up at the bottom of the page. This has increased our “engagement time” by 50%, leading to more wasted time but more advertisement impressions for the sites.

Facebook’s internal study, “Common Ground,” found that their algorithms exploit the human brain’s propensity for divisiveness. However, the study was shelved as fixing the problem was believed to destroy their revenue model.

In conclusion, our decreasing attention span is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors. It’s crucial to be aware of these factors and start pushing back against companies preying on an unsuspecting global populace. Hari’s book “Stolen Focus” is a recommended read for anyone interested in understanding this issue further.