We're only a month into the new year and already the nation is suffering from a case of whiplash. Our collective attention pivots from Lance Armstrong appearing on Oprah to Manti Te'o's interview with Katie Couric to Michelle's bangs and the Beyonce lip-syncing scandal. Not to mention the fiscal cliff and an inaugural speech that included global climate change and Stonewall.
Sometimes our mass communication reminds me of one of my favorite lines in a movie.
Conventional wisdom supports the notion that we have the attention span of a gnat and we're obsessed with trivia. And our readings suggest this was also a concern in the early years of radio and TV.
In chapter 15 of our text, Lewis Mumford raises questions about whether instantaneous communication leads to more trivial and parochial personalities. Hadley Cantril and Gordon W. Allport suggest in chapter 17 that radio standardizes our lives and may affect our concentration.
The worries of the past are echoed by today's concerns about the internet. In Is Google Making us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr warns the internet may have a profound effect on intelligence and concentration. However, Seth Godin offers a different point of view in his blog post, Slow Media. In the past, Godin says it was difficult to get your ideas in print or on the air because of the scarcity of media space. In today's limitless information landscape, Godin says media can actually be "calm instead of sensational, deep instead of superficial." Slow media, says Godin, is for people who really want to listen.
"It might not be obvious media, or easy to understand media, or easily digested media, but that's okay, because slow media is not mass media," writes Godin. "Slow media is not for the distracted masses, it's for the focused few.""
It's something to think about. At least until the next Squirrel!!!