Today, I was in the Gautrain, everyone, well almost everyone was on their phones, laptops, earphones and some gadget.
People are glued to their screens checking out stuff or listening to stuff.
We have all heard the news that attention spans are shrinking.
According to research, the average attention has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015.
Scientists reckon we now have shorter attention span than a goldfish.
The average attention of a goldfish is: 9 seconds.
I’m sure your attention has been distracted while reading this so far.
People check their phones over one hundred times in a day.
The Internet doesn’t want you to have a long attention span. Digital media is designed to be clicked, consumed, and shared as quickly as possible.
There is no time to go deeper on topics, we see the headline, we click and share and move on.
Ad revenue is driven by clicks, not by how many people actually read an article or watch an entire video.
We have come to believe that the people we are trying to reach are always distracted.
If that’s so, how do we explain the rise of binge-watching, the success of serialised podcasts and long read articles?
I used to binge-watch Prison Break when it started, but after they broke out of prison and were on the run I was fatigued from watching and stopped watching subsequent seasons, but for a good 8 season, I was glued, captured and held on suspense by the Prison Break story.
I haven’t seen Games of Throne, but the fans of this series are glued and follow the story with passion.
What we are witnessing is not just a shift in the way content is consumed.
It is a change in the intention and behaviour of both audiences and content creators according to their preferred platform or media.
The goal of prolific tweeters and grammers is to distract, rather than to immerse their audience.
People visit Twitter and Instagram when they want to be distracted.
Steaming services and series tv wants to keep us watching. Their intention gives rise to the creation of engaging content and better storytelling.
How we tell stories changes how people react and respond. How audiences react and respond changes the kinds of stories we tell.
We become better storytellers by knowing who we are and who we want to be to whom.
Purposeful storytellers are intentional about the impact they want to have and the messages they choose to send.
To stand out in today’s noisy world they need to tell a better story.
Ps: I’m aware that different researches on attention spans comes up with different numbers in terms of attention deficit, but what is consistent between them is that our attention span is decreasing.