A New Drug in Town

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With another daily bout of mindless internet browsing, a thought occurred to me whilst amusing myself with an assortment of videos: the majority I found had been shortened to just a few seconds. With the recent attention brought to the vine app in the past year, there was little surprise that Facebook as ever would finally catch up. However what got me thinking was how these shortened videos now appear to have become the norm. People around the world are cramming what could essentially make a five minute video into all of seven seconds or so, forcing out about a second of storyline and then thrashing the viewer with a few seconds of obvious puns and comedy. And yet, when we’re given the choice between watching one of these little clips were you can grab a quick sharp-nose-exhalation-laugh or a full, well planned three minute video to the same effect, it’s obvious which we will choose.

So since when did three minutes become such a long time?

We live in an age where people are rushing through their lives, desperate to get home, to go somewhere else, to do something they enjoy, that they fill every intervening section with as much entertainment to see them through these lulls as they can. With a plethora of entertainment devices, from smartphones to tablets to laptops, available in all situations at all times, we continuously have access to any sort of amusement we want. But how harming is this?

The human brain is naturally eager to learn, to be occupied and engaged by any and all things. However with a continual stream of entertainment we are training our brains to seek more and more, to find something new to amuse us as we wait for yet more amusement. But where does this constant intake of entertainment leave us? I read recently an article headed “A Generation of Stimulation Junkies: Television, ADD and ADHD”, stating how there has been a significant increase in people suffering from ADHD and other attention deficit related issues in recent years. This article was based on people’s excessive viewing of television, suggesting how this frequent watching has led people to lose attention when not watching T.V., as though an addict waiting to get their next fix. But what happens now we have access to this on the go? There’s a reason videos have been shortened to 7 seconds for our viewing pleasure, we simply don’t have the attention span to commit to watching one much longer. There’s always something else you could watch after. One video, one picture is never the be all and end all of entertainment. Unfortunately, our brains are all too aware of this.

I witness this every day, ashamedly both in myself and my friends. If there’s a lull in the conversation, like clockwork each and every person goes to their phones, the incessant need for constant entertainment like an addiction. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, it has become near impossible for me to sit down with a group of friends even simply to watch a film without the artificial glare of a dozen phones lighting up the room. At what point did a film no longer constitute a sufficient form of entertainment? Perhaps if they sorted the films into one minute summaries with a few slapstick puns people might be more interested…

Well congratulations, you made it to the end, I’m glad I could hold your attention! If there’s one thing to take from reading this, put down your phone once in a while and just live your life! Accept boredom, boredom is great, it makes you appreciate amusement so much more when it does find you.

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One thought on “A New Drug in Town

  1. Pingback: The Great Acceleration, by Robert Colville – Library Corner

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