Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Busting The Short Attention Myth

It’s true. We’re addicted to our phones and favourite media channels, and often can’t resist staring at our little screen even when we should be doing other things. But to say that our attention span is shrinking is false.

Firstly, the idea of an average attention span is ridiculous. Attention is task dependent. Standing in line at the post office is obviously a far less stimulating experience than hanging from a 67-metre-high rock cliff. 

How do you measure attention across these two activities? 

It’s undoubtedly easier to compare apples to oranges. They’re curved, fit in the size of your hand, and can be thrown at people who spread bogus ideas.

Secondly, the 2015 Microsoft study that started the myth of our decreasing attention span has been proven baseless. Nobody seems to know where the numbers came from. So, no, you do not have a worse attention span than a goldfish. 

In fact, people have incredible attention spans.

They finish 5 hour Lex Fridman podcasts. Spend an inordinate amount of time connecting colours on Candy Crush. And tear through 20+ hour Netflix shows in days (good golly Breaking Bad was good). 

So for you content creators out there, don’t shy away from making long and detailed content. 

If you lock in your audience within the first 60 seconds, you’re good. Did you captivate them for 60 minutes? You’re golden.

After all, people hate abandoning things they’ve invested time and attention into. 

I’ve yet to meet someone who likes Keeping Up with the Kardashians and yet it was broadcast on TV for 14 years. So either our attention spans defy all human logic, or there’s a secret society of people among us who are keeping the Kardashians in business. 

Your guess is as good as mine.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach