perhaps this “social media and smartphones have ruined our attention span” issue is really just FOMO on steroid and less an actual neurological change?
do you actually have bad attention span or you are just tired, in a rush, and constantly in FOMO?
so a combination of 1) a lack of mental bandwidth, 2) a perceived lack of time, and 3) the lurking “what if there’s something more exciting than this” — the overwhelm and impatience when you cannot see immediate value and you’re scanning for other low effort high reward alternatives.
do you actually have bad attention span or you just have nothing you’re genuinely into or invested in?
can you actually not think of any activity where you are able to get into the zone and focus for at least 30 mins? when you play games or watching a movie in cinema, are you not less distracted?
what if you’re not addicted to your phone, rather, whatever you were doing feels ungratifying and you’re just impatient?
what if, legitimate medical diagnosis like ADHD aside, nothing is “wrong” with our brain? we are not broken. we are just responding to our environment the best way we have evolved to be.
we have always find it hard to concentrate when the activity is not something we’re interested in, committed to, or able to execute.
I started questioning this after realising my attention span has gotten a lot better compared to last year, but I STILL spend a LOT of time in front of screens and social media apps. I can now read long complex articles for 8-10 hours a day and rarely find myself trapped in the vicious reflex cycle of app-switching and mindless doom-scrolling to numb out
what changed? well compared to last year, a) I’m more rested / have more mental bandwidth now that I no longer need to squander / spend on doing obligatory knowledge work, b) I have things I’m actually curious about, and c) I’m not often in a rush
I live somewhat unhurriedly, with less FOMO.
so perhaps it’s not that technology has actually rewired our brains for the worse, but rather 1) humans have always been hungry for distractions and am generally uncomfortable with boredom, and 2) in 2023, smartphones give us more options of how we can spend our time than we ever had before. hence we’re overwhelmed and exhausted.