"We have all the time in the world."
That was probably a positive notion once-upon-a-time. Nowadays, nobody feels like they have enough time.
Kids complain of being bored, but as we grow older boredom seems like a luxury of youth. When you have kids, you begin to wonder what you did with all the time you used to have. Where did it all go?
As technology speeds up our society, time becomes a rare commodity, or something precious. We speak of "quality time" versus whatever the opposite is. Our days become faster. Time is money. People's attention spans grow shorter. In the Internet economy, we are told that if we cannot grab someone's attention in 3 seconds or less, they're gone. More and more, we are encouraged to multi-task and spend less time thinking about one thing, or else we are "wasting" our time.
It seems that as society goes forward, time is shrinking. The "Long Now" Foundation describes this on their home page. They make a plea for long-term thinking, because it's seriously under threat.
In fact, there are dangerous consequences of this. ADHD is on the rise. Children are taught shortcuts to finding a solution, instead of the thought process that led to coming up with the tools that created the shortcuts. For example, calculators remove the urge to understand the theory behind the functions. Plug and chug. Google searches replace memory and critical thought.
Take the lure of Big Data and AI. As we amass huge quantities of data, we leave it up to computers to find correlations and we trust in algorithms that we, ourselves, don't understand. In various disciplines, the body of knowledge is becoming so immense that people must specialise in order to have any area of special expertise. And we leave it to 'geniuses' to synthesize all those seemingly diverse disciplines, because it just takes too long and requires too much brain power to bring it all together and come up with significant breakthroughs. Some have argued that we've reached our own limits of human cognition. Would you trust a machine to make decisions for you that you, yourself, could not understand the underlying relationships behind that decision?
When people don't give themselves time to digest and understand something, they look for short-cuts. In social terms, we call these stereotypes and we generally discourage them. Why, then, do we encourage stereotypes in other forms of critical thinking?
What happens to our lives when it becomes a "short attention span theatre"?
What do you think...?
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