Sunday, August 4, 2013

Default Tech-Savvy Generation, ADD, and TL;DR

One of the saddest things in my opinion about the current technologically-savvy generation (of which I consider myself) is the fact that we will never be able to tell whether our attention spans have been hindered as a result of being born in this generation.

I'm completely under the impression that after spending about a year regularly reading Twitter posts - and creating a couple thousand posts myself - that it has significantly shortened my attention span and made reading longer passages and books much more difficult than it used to be. As I have spent way too much time reading the Harry Potter series again over the course of this summer, I'm distracted by the constant impulse to check Twitter, check Facebook, check my email, check for text messages as it has never before been easier after having recently received a smart phone. Sometimes I get so frustrated with my inability to read like I used to so much so that I turn off my phone and put it out of sight. But as I feel I have been borne into this generation of constant forced multi-tasking, I have an undying urge to pull out the phone again and make sure none of my friends have tried contacting me, or that no one at work desperately needs me to cover their shift late notice.

I don't want to say that I would not have been ADD had I not been borne into this generation, but it seems highly unlikely. I feel I was so much more intuitive and observant in the years proceeding my use of social media, as I can see signs of it in some of my old journals. I know it's far too late to try to ditch technology now, when I've gone through some of my most crucial developing years being trained to stick to the crowd of others my age also growing up and becoming experts with it - I may even put myself behind and prevent myself from a future job opportunity if I try to do so so late in life. In this way, I know that tech-savviness has definitely forced its way into becoming a default attribute to those born in the 1990s and 2000s, and it will obviously only become more rampant for those born in the years to come.

Though I can't help but wonder through all of this what I would have achieved by this age had I not been born into this generation. How many books could I have read with all the time I've wasted checking Twitter, checking Facebook, checking email? Would I have finished by now the book I began writing at age fifteen? J. K. Rowling didn't have to go through all this as an adolescent or a young adult - would she have been significantly hindered in her writing had she been born during the same time as me?

It was constant questions like these which sent me into the guilty downward spiral that ended my time on Twitter. I deleted my Twitter account a few weeks ago, and haven't looked back since. I truly feel that regularly reading the short 160-character posts every day (even the well-constructed ones written by fellow aspiring writers) reduced my attention span and even made it difficult for me to retain information in some books I've read over the summer.

The common comment Reddit users write on the website is tl;dr, meaning: too long; didn't read. The mere fact that this acronym has become so well-known in such a short amount of time makes me nervous. If only a couple decades ago we read passages MUCH longer than the material posted on Reddit in things like magazines and newspapers, and now our attention may only be spent on things like memes and classic joke-length lines, what kind of future does my tech-savvy generation and all those proceeding it have to look forward to? Will there be much worse quality material and less of it in the arts because we creators have too many things by which to distract us or shorten our attention spans for reading?

None of this is to say that everyone in my generation has defaulted to acquire a certain form of ADD from the constant usage of material that passes the standards for "tl;dr"; Don't believe anyone who claims they can speak for everyone. But just see if dropping your usual engagement in a social media site doesn't positively influence you to maybe partake in one of your old favorite hobbies. In quitting Twitter and Tumblr alone, I've allotted myself so much more time just to read, write, and blog, and I can speak for myself in saying that having more time to do these things has made me feel much more accomplished, resulting in a more positive outlook on my own life as a whole.

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