BUILDING AN ATTENTION SPAN


If you’re like most of us, you wonder what the internet is doing to your attention span. You check your e-mail several times a day, toggle over to check what people are saying on Facebook, and check the bank even in the smallest pause in real life. Somehow you feel those phantom vibes begging you to take just one more look.

The truth is that online intelligence nurtures fluid intelligence and offline life is better at nurturing memory. Being online is like being at the greatest cocktail party ever and it is going on all the time.

You can meet people you would almost never meet in real life and when you get tired of the conversation you can just hang up. Are you more like your real self online or offline? Online circulation takes the pressure off some people and they are their best selves online. They feel more in control of the situation.

Offline learning at its best is more like being a member of a book club than a cocktail party. You are not in constant contact with the universe. Research at the University of Oslo and elsewhere suggest that people read a printed page differently than they read off a screen. They are more intentional, less likely to multitask or browse for key words.

Slowness of solitary reading or thinking means you are not as concerned with each individual piece of data. You have time to lose yourself in someone else’s complex environment.

Crystallized intelligence accumulates over the years and leads ultimately to understanding the whole picture and wisdom.

The online world is brand new, but it feels more fun, effortless and natural than the offline world of reading and discussion.

My own opinion is that there is room for both types of learning. It is easier to flip back and forth to refresh ones memory with a paper book, but the internet does encourage a faster mental agility to try to digest so many types of media in a given span of time.

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