Attention spans

I came across a reference to Millennials having the attention spans of Goldfish yesterday. I traced it back to a spate of articles like this one from 2016. Its exactly the kind of thing lazy journalists on a slow news day would have us believe. It joins the other failings that characterize my generation, like overly sensitive, flighty, neurotic, and Socialist. As I’ve said elsewhere, generational reasoning is neither new nor interesting. It is no different in this case.

The research behind it is dodgy or non-existent. There is a lot more information available and people need to be more selective about what they read. However, once they do sit down to do so, they can usually do fine.

Generational arguments

People never get tired of blaming problems on the next generation. As a millennial, I am always reading about how my attitudes are undermining society’s fabric (entitled snowflakes!). Thankfully Generation Z are getting old enough to share some of the flak.

One of the reasons its such a boring and lazy argument is that it gets made every generation. I look out for generational griping whenever I read and am rarely disappointed (Nor is brilliance any guarantee against falling into the trap) :

Take the following quote attributed to Socrates by Plato (contested):

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

Montaigne in his essay ‘On The Art of Conversation’:

Yet it is difficult to attract men to do that in our days. They have no stomach for correcting because they have no stomach for suffering correction


What our generation lacks is not reflection but passion

See also XKCD’s comic strip on a similar topic.