I’m that person they talk about when they write articles about Shortened Attention Spans (SAS) due to the Internet and the constant access to digital information. (Notice the link above? I had to stop writing and find an article to link. I didn’t read the whole thing, sent it to my Kindle for later, but the info looked pretty good. Let me know.)
I prefer my information in short paragraphs and preferably bullet-pointed. Give me a list of 5 solutions, 10 tips, or 3 danger signs and I will print it right away and put it on the read pile. The guest bed in my office serves as a credenza of sorts and is piled with books and papers. I constantly send things to my printer, my Kindle, my phone, the guest bed and OneNote. I save, save, save for later and later never comes.
I was that way before the web but I had to rely on books so information came at me a little slower. Now I have to train my eyes to the article I am reading and keep my mouse arrow off the side bar lists. It doesn’t have to be flashing or screaming my name. My eyes just wander around like a crazy person, looking for something to click, craving a craving. Never satisfied with what I am reading, always looking for that next savory tidbit. Needless to say I end up like the dieter who wants chocolate cake but eats a carrot, unsatisfied!
Having said this, I was manic again today, saving links and searching for articles to post. I wanted a list so I could just pull them out on Favorites Friday. As I was amassing this list I was convicted that I was going to post without reading, kinda like I did above. I got the first paragraph down and thought, “This sounds good, I’ll save this to OneNote.” I did this repeatedly.
I started thinking that this is sometimes the way I read and study the Bible. I just want one verse to go on. Don’t make me look for the context, just given me some meat to eat. Don’t make me read it slowly and meditate on it. I underline, highlight and mark words and verses for later. I write them on memory cards, I post them to Facebook, I stick sticky-notes on the pages. Instead of solid food I end up with a lukewarm glass of milk.
I have decided that my brain, time and spiritual life are worth more. I will conduct my own intervention!
Here is the list of things I am going to do to increase my attention span (bulleted, no less). Oh, and I underlined the main points so you wouldn’t have to read all the extra stuff.
On the Internet:
- Be in the moment. Be committed to getting the information I needed when I turned my computer on. This is easier said then done. It requires focus, which is a problem for those of us with SAS but it can be done. I am usually looking for things related to Bible study, theology or home management. What am I doing over on the Zappos site looking for shoes? Oh, the scrolling link on the side bar. Concentrate! Can I do it? Yes. I. Can!
- Don’t surf out of boredom. This causes a huge accumulation of random stuff that I then don’t know what to do with so I print, send, pile and save.
- Turn off the computer and each session. I will practice turning off my computer so that it is a hassle to run in and do a quick search that takes an hour.
- Determine to read the articles completely before they are printed, sent, piled or saved. This will require a commitment to the information. I want to make sure it is worth my time now, or later. Reading the first paragraph will help weed out the stuff unworthy of my time. But, if I like the first paragraph I will buckle down and read the rest.
- Build a libray of favorites that are “go to” sites, and use them! What is all that stuff in my favorites? They should call it Storage. ‘Save to Storage’ should be the command. It’s where I put things I don’t know what to do with, but don’t want to lose or give up. Usually it isn’t organized very well, so I can’t find anything and I end up going out and searching for more. I am a favorites hoarder and I need intervention!
In my Bible study and reading:
- Be prepared. I will get comfortable and make sure I have everything I need. It is a wonder I am so out of shape considering how many times I get up to go get something I forgot before I can settle in. Reinstitute the Bible study basket that holds everything I need. Well, except my coffee.
- Be in the moment. This is God’s Word. He has important things to tell me. I don’t miss a single story my daughter tells me about the grandchildren. I can recite them word for word. But, I sometimes listen half-heartedly when the Lord is speaking. I will open the ears of my heart by being fully there.
- Pray first. I have a Helper to keep me focused and on task. He is ready to take what I read and help me understand, remember, and apply it. With His help I can spend a lot of time on one thing and not get distracted. I need to call on Him every time I open my Bible.
- Take my time. Everybody knows nothing good and deep comes from a slap-dash approach to Bible study. Sure there will be times when I just need to open and go. To meet with God for a moment in His Word but this shouldn’t be my habit. I will slow down. I will read carefully. Even the genealogies, okay, maybe not every time with the genealogies. But, slowly, meditating.
This is my home-cure. If I carefully apply this according to the directions on the bottle I should begin to see some relief of my symptoms soon. It is a reversible condition. The damage done to your brain and my free time is not permanent. It will require the dreaded “double d’s” of discipline and determination, in regular doses but…I can do it! Yes. I. Can! Can you?
PS. I am going to go read that article I posted without reading. See, practicing what I preached already.
PPS. I make light here but a “controlled” search will show you that Internet addiction is a growing problem not only affecting users attention spans but other areas of their lives and relationships.