Make America Attentive Again
by Alex Garrett
Firstly, to be attentive in today’s world is an achievement. According to studies, the attention span is eight seconds as of 2018. According to Microsoft, that is a DROP from 12 seconds in 2000. (https://www.cision.com/us/2018/01/declining-attention-killing-content-marketing-strategy/) So here we are , less attentive in 2020. I thought as we grow and the years go on we are supposed to be sharper. What do I know?
This decline of attention is tied to many factors, but the biggest one certainly is the cell phone. In my new podcast series, ‘Adapting With Alex’, I’m trying to help get people adapting to new habits and ideas that can prolong their productivity, and yes life. By adapting to putting the phone away more, we can rebuild our attention span! We can talk about Vice President Biden’s cognizance all day long, but why can’t we also address the fact that texting and driving has killed ? NHTSA noted that in 2018 alone, 2,841 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving#:~:text=Using%20a%20cell%20phone%20while,vehicle%20crashes%20involving%20distracted%20drivers.) The NHTSA does include texting and talking on the phone as a distraction. That number is ALARMING! If you must text while driving, further research shows that the NYS DMV has developed ‘Texting Zone’ locations! (https://data.ny.gov/Transportation/Texting-Zone-Locations-Map/ib24-wmv8)
Lack of attention doesn’t stop there. Drivers do sometimes get all the blame, when really texting while walking is also problematic. According to a 2017 report by Reader’s Digest, walking and texting has caused over 11,000 injuries! From the article, ‘in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths numbered 5,376 — and were the only group of road users whose fatality numbers increased.’ The more worrying stat is only 29% owned up to texting and walking! (https://www.rd.com/article/texting-and-walking-injuries)/ Adapting is also meaning to own up to being distracted, because once the issue is recognized, an adaptation to behavior can be made!
My point in this piece today for both walkers and drivers is STOP BURYING YOUR HEAD IN YOUR PHONE. It does drive me a bit crazy when in NYC, home to so many iconic places, I see someone’s phone take precedent over the environment around them. Being that I’m on crutches and need to balance and see the road ahead, I have a need to look up at all times . Yet, seeing the Empire State Building, seeing busy-ness while scooting on my one rollerblade makes me psychologically and physically happy to be a New Yorker. I would implore others to explore and experience that happiness too just by looking up and taking eyes off the phone!
Cognizance and communication do go hand in hand. Are you scrolling aimlessly or scrolling your phone with a purpose to find stories to help you be productive? Are you simply writing on a timeline happy birthday to a friend, or are you making the conscious effort to stay connected through voice either by voice note or phone call? I ask these questions because I feel that aimless scroll syndrome hit me a lot and it does get me frustrated. So I adapt by doing crosswords or other things that involve handwriting to keep my mind sharp and not on scroll auto-pilot. When I am on the phone, I’m working on finding meaningful conversation to have OR valuable research to make the podcasting and the blogging content soar.
Talking to people and not just texting can also keep us sharp and interpersonal skills honed, a vital trait to keep us sane and connected past Election Day 2020. It also can keep the friendship going because the other person will see the efforts made to stay connected beyond just a text!
Technology is important, and needed. Yet, I say let the phone die if need be or put it away at intervals and explore the world around you like the old days. I say utilize the phone to stay cognizant, not let it make you lose your attention and sharpness!