Tales of My Shrinking Attention Span

By Ashley Caporoso

As I sit in my common room watching TV, I look through my phone as I answer meaningless texts and read insignificant tweets. Every once in a while I’ll look up and see what is going on with whatever show I am watching. I’ll admit it—most times this show is Keeping up with the Kardashians or some other show my mom would probably say is rotting my brain. I always watch these shows with little regard for the events happening as I focus on my phone. But somehow I still always follow what is on screen. Well, before you think I am some kind of media/television genius, consider the new trend that is influencing how producers make the shows we watch. Because these executives know that television shows rarely hold the full attention of viewers (because if you’re like me, you have the attention span of a goldfish), they adapt the style of shows to allow people watching to follow along with minimal effort.

Have you ever really thought about the story line of shows like The Simpsons or The Office?  These shows are super entertaining, but nothing much ever seems to be happening. Still, these programs have been popular for years—why?

In my Media Culture class, we are reading a book called Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff. He describes the idea of “present shock” as a kind of mental disconnect we experience when everything is happening right now due to exposure to technology. Rushkoff focuses on the idea of traditional story telling being replaced by reality shows and twitter feeds.  I can’t help but agree with his ideas, considering I am constantly guilty of scrolling through social media while some kind of Real Housewives episode plays in front of me. But how is all of this changing our culture?

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