The selective attention faculty

2020-08-31 @Blog

The attention span demanded per input complexity doesn’t follow strict linear growth. I’m rather skeptical that any growth function approximate the relation for a hypothetical human.

At least I don’t think it’s a mere function of two dimensions. Additional factors contribute.

Let’s explore. Take a person of a contemporary part of the world. For many of us, the smart phone is as good as a biomechanical extension. We become present and semi-active on two to ten social platforms, reinforced by flanks of messengers, emoticons, posts, bulletin boards, podcasts, sweeteners and an untameable surge of streamed media.

Struggling to focus on the more demanding, rigorous entertainment for long is the common complaint. I’ve cycled through varying patterns, certain lengthy periods obstinate to read a book, any book, even a four-page comic of no dialog but hyperbolic gazes and stringy thought bubbles. I can’t well recall the frame of mind.

These were times beset by strains of the shallow. A decade back that included my several year sojourn on the Facebook platform. Then I abandoned virtually all communication channels but the classic phone/text/email trio.

I don’t browse the internet. Not in the strict sense of plunging down bountiful labyrinthine chains like the tales of the Arabian Nights Entertainment. I don’t follow but a handful of sources through the RSS protocol. Most headings remain untapped.

I rarely watch a video clip. These days the prospect feels somewhat draining. If you emailed me a video link in the last year or two, overwhelming odds against me having opened it. But do understand, I procrastinate to explore even my personally catered backlog.

I’ve also circuited between the two factions. But now I’m on the far brink. And the extreme probably expands to severe malice as we scale the outlying curve.

The mechanics have taken an alternate course. Cannot focus on the shallower materials, even when I vainly pretend. Even with literature that drew me a short while ago. The incumbent filter short-circuits, erupts, menaces like the Tartarean guard dog. I’d sooner resort to nothing.

Presently I abound in patience to read Elizabethan drama and Victorian verse. A lot of that lately. Yet I would’ve deemed you slightly mad had you mentioned the prospect several months prior, when prosaic expression exclusively subjected my attention. And tomorrow, the circumstance might again altogether change.

Thus the ability to focus follows a more intricate pattern than a mere gradient of material complexity. You might question if any of this were not obtusely obvious? A person concentrates in one area while distancing another. The more demanding doesn’t necessarily distance nor exclude; the more lax doesn’t necessarily charm. Anything unusual here?

Not in terms of the general priority-focus paradigm. But respecting casual entertainment, I don’t think we pay due regard.

In my case, the attention faculty yields to a select domain across poetry, prose, narrative, lyrical, introspective, obscene, satire, abstract. There it builds camp and forays to exhaustion. Or until such next metamorphosis or eclipse.

What’s your take? Is this good? Compromising? Meaningless? Needlessly analytical?

Questions, comments? Connect.