Mass media and the internet have caused people’s attention spans to get shorter. However, the overall effect has been positive: while people are less able to focus on one thing, they more than make up for it with an enhanced ability to sort through large quantities of information and find what’s important. .
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

The claim states that the Mass media and Internet have caused people’s attention span to get shorter, at the same time this has had an overall positive effect as people have developed an enhanced ability to sort through large quantities of information and incisively understand what’s important and what’s extraneous. I agree with this claim and there are a multitude of reasons as to how this claim can be justified as elucidated below.

It is definitely true that there has been an exponential growth in the amount of content that is available in terms of digital and mass media, which has been primarily accelerated due to the increasing accessibility to the internet. We have more than a billion users on Facebook a social network, logging in everyday sharing stories of their daily lives, videos of their interests and creating groups of like minded people. We have got twitter, a micro-blogging platform which again has hundreds of millions of users using the platform to follow the people they are interested in knowing about. We also have all the major news and media organisations creating an online presence on these platforms and their own websites, further youtube is a video sharing platform on which one billion hours of video is watched by masses across geographies on an everyday basis. We have email systems, which people use for varied reasons ranging from official tp personal purposes. So it can’t be contested that there is a plethora information available on the mass media. Now as the claim states it is easy for people to get overwhelmed by this myriad of information available to them, hence not being able to have appreciable attention spans. But it is important to note that by using these platforms over a period of time, people learn to wade through larger quantities of information than they ever used to before and develop an ability to filter out what is important and what is not.

For example: Each of the social media platforms allow the user to tailor what appears on their feed, if the user feels that a particular source of information is garbage/extraneous and the user doesn’t really benefit from that source. The user can choose to unfollow that source. So as can be seen with time the user learns to filter out sources which are not beneficial to him/her.

Further the news sources that the user uses to keep up-to-date may have a lot of extraneous information which may not necessarily be of interest to the user, in order to keep the user engaged the news and media websites have developed the technological capabilites to understand what the user really is interested in and filter out what is of interest to him, so as can be seen not only has this led to an improvement in the ability of the user to sort through large quantities of information, it has also resulted in an improvement in technology of how to push most relevant information to each individual user, engendering a completely personal experience. Further there are aggregation platforms like Google News, which aggregate news data from various news sources and tailors it for every user. If an Indian visits Google News, he/she gets the most relevant news based on the geography. Similarly in social media networks like Facebook, Twitter there is a trending feature which informs the user about the post or article that is most prevailing and what people are finding compelling at the current time. This is identified by metrics which empowers people to up vote or down vote a particular post that they come across in their feed, so it gives the power to users to decide if this piece of information is relevant or irrelevant or is spam.

Further there has been a great improvement in a technology called as the Search Engines. These are basically websites which a user visits in order to find a particular piece of information, these search engines crawl through the internet and rank websites based on content, so when a user queries for Quantum Physics the Search Engine is able to pull out the most highly rated articles on the topic and user gets what he/she is looking for.

It may be argued that the user could continually get interrupted by ending up landing on the varied platforms mentioned above and actually have a shortened attention span. For example: If a user finds an article on Quantum Physics on a particular website and shares it on a social media platform, he/she may start watching some other irrelevant content like some movie videos etc. Or if the user is studying and he gets notified that his friend has shared some compelling content on Facebook, he may end up losing his attention span. This is definitely possible and can occur, however to tackle these problems there are tools available that let you block out notifications for a period of time, so a user can decide to block out notifications, there are also tools available that let users block out particular websites for a period of time. There are also productivity tools available that define metrics about where the user spends his/her time.These can be used by the user to tackle the attention span issue. As can be seen, that the mass media has definitely empowered the users, but also given them the added responsibility of ensuring that they don’t get lost in these websites.