Constantly entertained

2013-06-12 2 min read

    The real time news cycle bothers me. Every time theres some news there are countless reactions on Twitter and quick, shoddy write ups on various “news” sites. Unfortunately, by the time someone does the research and writes a thoughtful response, we’ve moved on to the next piece of news. We’re reaching the point where writing something stupid quickly is becoming more valuable than writing something thoughtful but late.

    Twitter’s strength is its weakness. The 140 character limit makes it very easy for anyone to share an opinion but that also leads to everyone sharing an opinion. Of course, its ability to break and spread news is invaluable. I just wish that the more thoughtful, well-researched pieces could get past the noise. This week, I would have preferred to see a few insightful pieces about WWDC rather than the same exact WWDC coverage from dozens of sites.

    This wouldn’t be a problem if it were isolated to Twitter but it’s becoming the norm. The Lincoln-Douglas debates lasted hours and candidates had an hour for a rebuttal. These days, we’re lucky to get a rebuttal longer than a few minutes. The average shot length for movies decreased from over 6 minutes in the 1930s to close to 4 minutes now. Even investors are getting in on the trend and want entrepreneurs to have 30 second elevator pitches instead of real conversations.

    Clearly I’m simplifying and there are countless other reasons for these changes. At the same time, this trend towards constant stimulation and gratification is dangerous. It reminds me of a study that showed that kids who had more patience and self control ended up with higher SAT scores more than a decade later. If we get addicted to constant entertainment, how are we going to tackle on the challenging problems that require focus?

    As a kid I used to lie in bed and read a book for hours but now find myself taking a break every 15 minutes to check up on my digital life. This bothers the hell out of me. I can’t imagine the effect it’s having on kids who’ve never even had a chance to be left alone with a good book.