The myth of the goldfish-sized attention span

The idea that attention span is shortening, particularly among younger generations is a myth, and the claims are not backed by any evidence. The idea of an “average attention span” is a myth, as there is no such thing. Attention span is very much context-dependent.

Even within particular contexts, such as driving or listening to a lecture, there is zero evidence of a change among the public or between generations. By the way, there is also zero evidence that goldfish have a short attention span. The “eight-second attention span of a goldfish” is completely fabricated. Goldfish memory IS extensively studied, simply because the fish are easy to breed and keep, and in fact goldfish are known to be able to perform the same kind of learning as mammals and birds, and don’t have any specific learning or memory deficit.

It is true that shots and edits in film and media are getting shorter, but this has to do with changes the preferences of editors and tastes of consumers, and especially (in my opinion) much higher expectations among young people about the visual quality, animation, and compelling narrative in the media they consume. If the content is good, young people will binge-watch Game of Thrones or Stranger Things for days at a time.

Further reading:

The myth of “talent”

The common concept of “talent” may be one of the most destructive fallacies ever invented by human beings. So many people give up on their dreams because early setbacks lead them to believe that they lack the “talent” to become great at something. In truth, expertise at anything comes by persistent self-improvement.

For example, here is how I became good at photography – you can apply this to anything:

1: Study the technical principles of photography
2: Look at lots of photos taken by the best in the field
3: Take tons of photos. Be your most honest, ruthless critic. Repeat.

This is not to say that genes, environment, circumstance, and hard work are not important, but that having the right process is far more important than commonly appreciated.