Is Our Attention Span Killing Our Relationships

“Talkin’ ’bout how the weather’s changing/The ice is meltin’ as if the world is ending” – Drake (Heat Of The Moment)

Working in advertising in this generation has been termed as one of the hardest jobs to do, especially when you are contending with what celebrated journo David Hundeyin refers to as ‘the attention span of a goldfish’.

Catching someone’s attention and holding it long enough up to the point where they bring out their wallets to buy whatever you’re selling has become harder every day.

Attention is the new cocaine.

People have to get their fix somehow.

From push notifications to social media feeds and trending topics to a myriad of apps to go through every day, our attention is fragmented across a thousand things.

This has led to an attention deficit syndrome and an inability to concentrate on a particular area or thing for long.

This has affected our lives as one on one communication without mobile interfaces have become harder. People are so terrible at communicating nowadays.

We’ve lost our confidence and ability to talk to people face to face.

When together we’d rather take pictures instead of soaking in a moment.

Awkward silences which are natural for punctuating interactions are made worse by people looking at their phones trying to escape them.

Dates feel like interviews. Question and answer sessions.

The time that should be spent figuring out your partner’s quirks are lost to the apps on your phone.

Whatever magic that was in waiting has completely fizzled out. Everyone is speed dating in the DMs.

A typical modern-day relationship works with two people who are miles apart and instead of waiting for those treasured monthly letters scented with talcum powder or perfume, lipstick kisses and starting with prim and proper headers like ‘Calvary Greetings, dearly beloved’ sent by post, you could easily go online at any time of the day, cut right to the chase and just say, “Hey, baby.” Damn the old and proprietary. Vive la Nueva!

You could say this same thing to 50,000 other people too (depending on which side of the fence you swing), and this might be the biggest problem.

Too many options. There’s a completely extensive and exhausting menu out here.

And the common mistake we’ve made over the years has been assuming a few options mean you’d be settling for less. And so we’d rather more.

But what about the quality of these options?

It is one thing to have just four good eggs in your kitchen cupboard. It is another level of trauma to have 30 eggs, 24 bad and 6 good. The heartbreak and paranoia might make you throw everything away. You may never look at eggs the same way again.

Online relationship experiences have blighted many lives and they forever remain scarred. Future interactions poisoned and possibly dead on arrival.

There’s an entire vacuum between online and offline interactions.

“…the Internet was meant to make the world a smaller place, but it actually feels smaller without it…”, narrates Paul Bettany playing Max Waters in sci-fi film Transcendence.

Re: People inadvertently feel smaller without their phones, and all the fault lines in their abilities to communicate offline just bleed through with inexperience.

We’ve always had shy people. But the Internet made it easier for them.

Now imagine taking that phone away.

People have never been this close and yet so alone in the history of the world.

It’s crazy!

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

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