In Search of the Endangered Attention Span

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the lit...

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just extracted myself from Facebook and Twitter, social media black holes for the focally challenged, a place for Avatars to gather and communicate with Likes and Tweets, where writing is mindless, never work, and 140-characters is the norm for people with endangered attention spans.

Interacting on Facebook and Twitter takes less time than writing a 400-word blog post. 400 words are too many for someone like me, someone who is easily distracted, who stops writing in the middle of a sentence to run outside and take a picture of a tree.

Writing a sentence with a beginning, middle, end, while using proper punctuation (most of the time), requires protracted concentration. I don’t want to think for more than five minutes, the point when my brain starts to hurt.

I’ll probably take two Advil to finish writing this post.

I used to be proud of my twenty-minute attention span, cultivated from years of watching afternoon TV in the 60s (when I should have been doing homework).


I sat through commercial breaks, fine-tuning my focus skills, testing my knowledge of the ads I watched.

Would I be able to recall key selling points in the Alka Seltzer commercial, or the snappy little song?

Alka Seltzer extinguishes the fire in your heartburn or something.

And the song… “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is.”

Yes, I can remember. Oh, what a relief… God, I hate commercials.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, “Leave It to Beaver.”

Shit. I have to focus twenty more minutes.

I’ll reward myself with a snack every time I remember a character’s name.

Was that Mr. Clean who walked into the kitchen and kissed Mrs. Cleaver on the cheek?

No, dummy, that was the commercial before Alka Seltzer. The man in the kitchen was Ward Cleaver, father to Wally and the Beave. Pay attention. You’re watching serious shit about life.


“Leave It to Beaver” mirrors life in a utopian society, where people smile politely after getting punched in the face. In real life, people cry and bleed a lot.

Nothing is real on TV. That’s why it’s called the idiot box, or teleconfusion, as my late father-in-law used to say.

Why do they call someone “late” when they’re dead?

I suppose, when you’re dead, you’re technically always late.


Focus. Just 15 more minutes of “Leave It to Beaver” until another commercial break.

I think Mrs. Cleaver just handed the Beave a plate of cookies. He needs a sugar rush to start his homework. Watch him binge eat and not get fat. It’s not until years later he finds out he’s diabetic.


In the 60s, the brainiacs thought sugar wasn’t harmful to your health. Today, we know better because of websites like WebMD, the hub for hypos, and the Google who finds exercise sites for computer sloths, websites like or

Google also finds websites that help us focus:

“There are about 250,000,000 results on improving your attention span. It will only take an eon to sift through all the pages. We really enjoy having you here online. Please stay a while longer.”

Thanks for your hospitality, Google, but I need to clear my head of too much information.

I dash back to Facebook and Twitter, where the focally challenged frolic in mindless repetition on their walls: Like. Tweet. Like. Tweet. Like. Tweet…

Is that a picture of someone’s lunch?

Time to exercise my fingers. In the search bar, I type,

20 Comments In Search of the Endangered Attention Span

  1. Agent54

    I’m lucky enough to be able to focus to write over 500 words pretty often. I actually have to focus to shorten my stories because I could easily write 1000 words on almost anything. Lucky, I guess. Many of my stories like “Zombie Lunch” write themselves. My physical being slows the writing process in my mind.

    PS: I quit wasting time with Twitter a year ago.

    1. Lauren

      Smart man, quitting Twitter. I agree with you about physical being slowing down the writing process. I like to call writing, getting in the zone. I have more trouble typing these days from wrist and back issues.

  2. ReformingGeek

    It took two breaks and a game of Sudoku before I could finish reading this post. I’m kidding but some days I feel like that. I’m thinking our techno-overloaded world of instant gratification has taken its toll on me.


    My cat….nevermind. Now, what was I saying?

  3. forhad

    Tnx for sharing your experience with social media. Sometimes i feel also like you because they are tracking our activity without any permission.


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