Last night, while at my sister’s 16th birthday party, I witnessed the “media generation” to the fullest extent. My sister had a big 16th birthday party, just as I had almost 5 years ago. We spent the day decorating a banquet hall in preparation…250 balloons, a banner, cupcakes, a buffet of food, and a DJ with a “larger than life” video screen to display music videos for each song played. I was so excited for the party and to be able to spend such a special day with my family, but I certainly didn’t expect to want to write a blog about my experience. To be more exact: a blog about the attention span of the “media generation,” which is exactly 0.
I watched as the guests entered the party, each one with a cell phone in their hand and completely uncommitted and unengaged with the party. They were half at the party, but the other half of them was obviously focused on Facebook, text messaging, and the fear of missing something else while they were at the party. Within 5 minutes of the start of the party, one of my sister’s friends looked at me and asked, “Does this restaurant have WIFI?” She was hoping to use some sort of device to log onto Facebook for the remainder of the party, so she could “stay connected.”
This question really made me think…what is the attention span of the “media generation?” By the end of the party, I had determined the answer to this question was 0. But that was not the end of watching this scattered group of people express the way the media has affected their attention span. The guests socialized, ate the food-very quickly I might add, and gradually went to the dance floor. I was apparently more excited to actually dance than they were, as I witnessed many of the guests standing on the dance for text messaging on their cell phones, while surrounded by at least 100 other people to communicate face-to-face with.
Another observance that I was able to make about the dance portion of the party, was that if they didn’t like the song that was playing at the time, they would walk around the room and go to a table to play with their phones or even go in and out of the party room “in case they were missing something.” I question whether the fear of “missing something” has been created by the ability to be constantly connected to social media. Even when we were 16, we all “missed” things, and to be honest, did we even know or care that we were missing them?
I even noticed this as we decided when to sing “Happy Birthday” to my sister. It was a situation of conflict…if the guests were content dancing; you almost didn’t want to move them to another location, because it was going to be a battle to get them back to the center of the party. We ended up singing “Happy Birthday” on the dance floor because if we hadn’t we may have lost half of the party to the cake, to their cell phones, to Facebook, and then out the door to see what else they could get into.
I found this both frustrating and a sign of the times, also providing an explanation for why kids these days cannot focus, commit, or stay engaged in anything for any time at all. As you all know, I am a supporter of Facebook and Social Media in general, but I think it is really sad to see the extreme part that it is playing in the lives of the next generation and their inability to function in social without social media 24/7. The party is just a small example of the issues of commitment and engagement that have become a part of our society because of the ability to be connected 24/7.
Besides the party, I predict that this attention span problem will ultimately affect the educational system and will affect the work force of our society long-term. The main question in regards to this problem…did the influence of media and social media create the attention span problem being seen in “generation media?”
YES! If I had the ability to see into the future, I would say that this problem will continue to be a problem long after the generation’s 16th birthday parties are over. I think that we will see more students entering college with an “undecided major status,” more students will change their major while in college, and more students will fail to see the positive aspects of working hard, showing dedication, and having the desire of being challenged to do something “outside of the box” and away from others on their “friends” list. Aside from college, the workforce may also be in trouble. These are the same people that will enter jobs unable to commit and engage themselves in a 12 hour day without being connected to the outside world. Their lack of focus and ability to connect to the generation of supervisors that there will be at that time may result in higher unemployment numbers and an even worse reputation for this up and coming generation…titled by me as the “media generation” or “generation media.”
My rating for “generation media’s” attention span: 0
My rating for “generation media’s” future attention span: the reformation of the educational system, the war of the workforce, and a longer unemployment line!