attention span - frowny faceRecently I have noticed a disturbing trend. People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. In fact, if you’re like 85% of Americans under the age of 35, you lost interest after the sentence Recently I have noticed a disturbing trend. It’s an epidemic.

For the 15% of you still reading, let me explain. Thanks to texting, people now spell the words U and B4 because they don’t have the patience anymore to take the extra two seconds required to spell out you and before. God forbid the word might contain more than two syllables, such as a word like, well, syllables. People simply can’t be bothered – too many keystrokes. And when was the last time you wrote a personal handwritten letter? Let me guess. President Clinton was still dating Monica, right?

Thanks to Facebook, we have all become conditioned to posting micro comments on people’s “walls” which according to the Facebook Code of  Condensed Communication Conduct (FCCCC) must not exceed 24 characters. Say your family dog passed away after 18 years, and you decided to share your grief about your loss. Here is the response you would likely receive from one of your closest  friends:

1)     In 1974: Hey, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear Golden Retriever Buster. I know that he was a family member to you. I hope you can be heartened in your time of grief knowing that he lived a good life. I hope you don’t mind but I baked you my homemade apple pie. I am always here for you. (This note would of course have been handwritten.)

2)     In 1994: Hey, so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. What was his name? Anyway, imagine you’re pretty bummed. Would love to talk more, but gotta go – Monica’s soccer match. Can’t be late. (Sent by email.)

3)     In 2014: Hey,  attention span - frowny face - small(Sent by iPhone.)

attention span - reading a bookWhen people noticed recently that it was my birthday, I received one printed birthday card (from my mom), five e-greeting cards, and 37 Facebook posts saying “Happy Birthday!”  I was deeply moved by the outpouring of acknowledgements these 37 people showered me with in the 3.1 seconds it took them to type those 13 characters – 14 if you include the exclamation mark!

The world’s attention span is shrinking at an alarming rate. People no longer have the patience to sit through the nightly news. Why should they when they can have a seven-word text alert sent to their cell phone that says Norway’s economy implodes. Dow down 400 points. What more do you need to know?

People today simply don’t have the attention span to read say, The New York Times or sit through a sixty-minute documentary about violence in Africa – not when they can watch a 30-second You Tube video about Justin Bieber’s latest drunken rant about Justin Timberlake.

This all got me to thinking. Perhaps I am too old-school – out of touch with the way today’s world takes in information. Perhaps I need to rethink my approach to this humor blog. After all, my typical post is about 900 words – or 870 words longer than the attention span of the typical American under 35.

In researching my humor blog’s readership demographics, the findings shocked me. My typical reader is a 59 year-old male, baseball fan, lives in a house he can no longer afford and goes by the name of Tim. I have a serious readership problem.

I need to find a way to attract a much younger audience, preferably one not suffering from male pattern baldness. So I recently hired a marketing consultant to improve my blog’s appeal to this younger demographic. My consultant, Tiffany McCloskey, a freshman at Evergreen College majoring in the History of Plants with a minor in Northern European Twitter Studies, had three recommendations – she originally planned to share ten, but she got distracted after suggestion #3 and texted her roommate Morgan about our meeting, typing some indecipherable character string: ROTFLMAO? I had no idea.

attention span - FacebookTiffany’s three recommendations were:

1)     Keep my posts less than 100 words – less than 50 would be even better. People are like totally slammed this century.

2)     Abbreviate more.  More exclamation marks and emoticons to enhance the gravitas of my message.

3)     Consider incorporating humor into my posts occasionally.

That last suggestion was particularly helpful. Why hadn’t I thought of that! attention span - smiley emotion small

So I’ve reworked this week’s post, incorporating Tiffany’s sage advice. Hope you like the slimmed down version below:

Headline: America’s worsening attention span probl – Hey look, Pam just sent me a text…

Noticng a neg trend – ARGH!! Attn spns gttn shrtr n shrtr. If U R thumbs up 85% of USA, U lost int by now.  :  (   Thnx 2 txtg we cant spll wrds  thumbs upU n B4. Thnx 2 FB, we R uzd 2 pstg cmmts < 24 chrctrz. Yur dog dies. EX’s:

1974: Hey,  so srry 4 yur loss. Hug!

1994: Hey, srry!

2014:  :   (

Hey, check out this You Tube video. Funny HA HA! Bride flls n2 pool. AWSUM. LOL! attention span - happy emoticon

Hmmm. I’m not sure about this new more youthful style of writing. This may take some time getting used to. But wait. What’s this? Perhaps my consultant Tiffany is onto something.  I just posted the above abbreviated version on Facebook. I’ve already received 73 Likes, 11 LOLs, and twoattention span - smiley emotion small ’s. Talk about gratifying feedback.  Well, I must say, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about the import – Oh, wait. Need to text Pam back. Could be very – Wha? – is that a dime? Must be my lucky day.

TTVFTB. PIOB! attention span - happy emoticon

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook. 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014

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