I recently read an interesting note. Apparently, “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds. But according to a new study, from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.
Researchers in Canada surveyed 2000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 of others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds.”
Eight seconds and our minds are off on another topic. Eight seconds and we have detoured onto another subject, and another and another. Our thinking patterns look like the crazy configurations that small children make with a crayon.
And not only are we easily distracted, but we don’t focus on things that really matter. That’s why Paul told the church at Philippi to think on things that are true, right, pure, noble, lovely and admirable (Phil. 4:8).
Here’s a little story that speaks to that issue. It seems that around the time when Napoleon was marching across Europe, men were following his progress with bated breath. They were waiting feverishly for news of the war. “And all the while in their own homes, babies were being born. But who could think about babies?”
“Everybody was thinking about battles. In one year, there stole into a world a host of heroes. Gladstone was born in Liverpool, England, and Tennyson at Somersby. Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Massachusetts. The very same day of that same year, Charles Darwin made his debut at Shrewsbury. Abraham Lincoln drew his first breath in Old Kentucky, and music was enriched by the birth of Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg. But nobody thought about those babies. Everybody was thinking about the battles.” (From a book by Frank W. Boreham)
This week might be an opportune moment to review what we are spending our 8 seconds of attention on. Let’s focus on things that encourage us and others. Let’s concentrate on things that are noble or admirable. Let’s string together a whole host of thoughts on things that are right and pure. I am convinced that sort of intentionality will change our perspectives and enrich our days.
Let’s all think more about “the babies” than “the battles.”