DISREGUARDIAN: ​​The Problem with Declining Attention Spans


Marcella Barneclo

Editor’s note: The following is a satirical article for The DisreGuardian, which are a series of articles published annually for The Guardian’s April Fool’s issue. Opinion will resume publishing normal content next week.

With the rise of technology, it’s no surprise that negative consequences have rained down on younger generations. At this point in time, we all seem to know that social media contributes an unhealthy amount to depression, anxiety, and a multitude of other mental health issues in young adults. However, a different issue that often isn’t acknowledged as frequently is how apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter that provide endless scrolling and short, clipped content are rewiring Generation Z’s brains and dramatically shortening attention spans.

Speaking of wires, did I leave the iron on? Wait, do I even own an iron? Maybe I should consider buying one. I mean my clothes are pretty wrinkly and it would be nice to step out of the house without looking like a cloth raisin. That reminds me, I really need to do laundry too, because that bag of clothes has been sitting there for a concerning amount of time. I remember when I said I was going to do it when finals were over and I wasn’t so stressed, but those ended like a week ago and that bag is still there. What if I just leave it there forever? That’s actually not the worst idea I’ve ever had. I could always just buy new clothes. I’m a genius. I’ll open a bunch of tabs to different shopping websites and switch between them for maybe like thirty minutes before I come back to working on this article. I have four hours to finish this before I have to go do something else, and it’s eight in the morning on the day that it’s due … Yeah, I have plenty of time. I can waste a few minutes on amassing an entire digital cart full of cute clothes only to remember I’m on a budget and bully myself into not making any purchases. Perfect.  

Alright, I’m back. Let’s see, where did I leave off? Okay so, an article released by Forbes reports that marketing strategies from these social media companies have even altered their approaches because it’s become increasingly difficult to capture the attention of this younger generation. Since they’ve become more accustomed to a faster paced digital world with limitless borders and endless content, these young consumers are less likely to pay attention to the average advertisement since attention spans are now about eight seconds. 

Man, those BDG jeans from Urban Outfitters are calling my name right now, but they’re so problematic, environmentally unethical, poorly sourced, and unnecessarily expensive. Like, a tiny tote bag for $30? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ll just close the tab and get back to this. I have to focus now; although, maybe my dog is awake and in desperate need of all of my attention for around like eight seconds. That seems like a fair and totally random amount of time. I’ll just write a conclusion before I go. My film professor said I have to end with a flourish. Ummm… Let me think about it while I check Twitter really quickly. I don’t know if you guys have heard, but there’s that whole thing about Doja Cat that’s trending right now. I just have to stay up to date on this new meaningless drama that will inevitably fade away in the next couple of days and never be mentioned again. Nevermind, I remembered how much I dislike Twitter. 

So, yeah, social media sucks and we can’t pay attention to things or something like that. Sorry, I lost my train of thought in the past eight seconds. 

Photo courtesy of Wyzowl.