“Now… this’ is commonly used on radio and television newscasts to indicate that what one has just heard or seen has no relevance to what one is about to hear or see, or possibly to anything one is ever likely to hear or see. The phrase is a means of acknowledging the fact that the world as mapped by the speeded-up electronic media has no order or meaning and is not to be taken seriously. There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political blunder so costly- for that matter, no ball score so tantalizing or weather report so threatening- that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, ‘Now …this.’ The newscaster means that you have thought long enough on the previous matter (approximately forty-five seconds), that you must not be morbidly preoccupied with it (let us say, for ninety seconds), and that you must now give your attention to another fragment of news or a commercial.” -Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, 99-100.
This book written in 1985 and still has much to say in our internet and social media age. Scroll our feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and favorite news website, and what we see is not news, but entertainment.
What is interesting? What will sell? Will you click on my product? How can this story go viral?
Now this… is the age in which we live, and attention to what matters is not important. What is essential is whether we’re entertained, diverted, and click on the product.
In the day of the internet, forty-five seconds of attention is bloated. Now it’s closer to ten.
Also, who determines what I should think is important? Where I place my attention? Who is the authority of our day? Stories on the internet designed to shape perception, importance, and create a pseudo-stir.
Our feeds and favorite sites filled with content and information that the publishers promise deserve our best attention. But isn’t this arbitrary and subjective? Most top-ten news stories involve who’s sleeping with you, who’s getting divorced, latest scandal, and what a famous person ate for breakfast.
Not exactly attention worthy… but it sells.
Something to consider.