Now, where was I?
Oh, yes. Attention spans.
When did we turn into a nation of goldfish?
This question was sparked by a tweet by Swineshead about ITV’s new flagship gameshow The Colour of Money. His fellow blogger’s enjoyment of the programme is seriously hindered by the constant recaps of what has happened just a few minutes earlier in the show.
The blog post prompted a mini discussion about how programme-makers in general now seem to believe our collective attention span has reduced faster than the exchange rate.
Chris Tarrant’s gameshow is not the only culprit. There are plenty of other examples of shows – from the lightest of entertainment to the most substantial (sic) of news and current affairs programmes, everything feels staccato these days.
The stuttering progress of these shows is down to (sorry Tim) a direct result of the need to recap what we’ve just listened to or seen every few minutes. Indeed, some overdo it so much you actually feel like you’re going backwards.
So, are we now losing out to goldfish in the attention span stakes?
A day out to a zoo this week seemed to confirm that we cannot focus longer than a few minutes. The pace of life has increased so rapidly that we have lost the ability to dwell.
We don’t like to linger any longer.
The first indication came during the penguin feeding. A largish crowd had gathered to watch, but at least a third had left before the end of the 10-minute spectacle.
Moving on to the stunning Amur Leopard, we watched it watching us in awe for a while before we were joined by a couple. The woman spent most of the time looking at her own reflection in the glass and fussing with her hair, while her beau got out his phone and stared at the small screen. They moved on within a couple of minutes, barely giving this endangered big cat a second glance.
The lowlight, however, came at the lion enclosure where two magnificent cats were sprawled out watching the world go by.
A young couple with a pushchair appeared. The woman fussed her hair as she checked out her reflection and there was a brief exchange with her partner about the fact she looked a “right state”.
They stared at the two lions for a few seconds, until the woman announced: “Bored now. I mean, they don’t do anything do they?”
Her significant other grunted his agreement and they disappeared, no doubt to criticise the otters for being too small or for spending too much time in the water.
So, just to recap, we can’t concentrate these days. We’re unable to focus on anything for any length of time and the likes of The Colour of Money are merely mirroring the viewing audience they seek to entertain.
If you’ve managed to read down this far, you win a prize* for services to attention spans.
(*There is no prize, other than the reward of reading 500 words. I bet you feel cheated now?)