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Social Media and Attention Span

Jessica Vieira | Opinion Editor

Everyone has heard the idea that social media, video games, and TV will "rot your brain,” but what if instead of rotting, your brain develops a short attention span and memory problems. Maybe that is rotting your brain, but it’s way more real and scary than this classic phrase. In the age of one of the biggest social media platforms being centered around one-minute videos, most of the time less than that, and instant gratification being the only way to motivate, it’s hard to ignore the effects that this has on schoolwork and overall mental health.

The average video length on TikTok is 20 seconds, and most people spend over an hour every day scrolling through videos. Despite the short video time, some only watch videos part of the way through. Along with the short videos, the fast pace at which TikTok offers so many different genres of video to you on your for you page that you could go from laughing to crying in thirty seconds or less. This is so unhealthy. Our brains aren’t meant to process emotions that quickly. This could lead to feeling depressed, or anxious.

I know it’s not easy to live in a world that’s so riddled with fear and hopelessness and not look for distractions, or an escape, but it is important to consider the effects of only ever consuming content made by other people. It could lead to a general lack of creativity and color with the rise of minimalistic architecture that we’ve already been seeing for a couple of years now. For example, McDonald’s used to have a red roof, and now it’s a gray cube. I’m not saying that TikTok and social media are the reason why we don’t have interesting buildings being made anymore, but what could be said is that in a world full of working-class people always consuming and never creating, the world will start to look different.

A good alternative to mindlessly scrolling is watching a movie in full – as silly as it sounds, the act of seeing something done to completion can help to retrain your brain to maintain attention for longer. Another thing you could do is make something! Nothing is more rewarding than being able to hang up a painting, or sitting under a blanket you made, or reading a poem you just finished for the first time in its final draft. Maybe you could even opt for the free delivery option when shopping online, and not paying extra for same-day delivery. Working on delayed gratification and waiting for things will help to reverse the effects of the twenty-second video. Though it’s not necessary to feel better, some people are even deleting the app from their phones. After doing this, they report better sleep, lessons feelings of depression and anxiety, and some even say that they feel like they have more free time after they delete the app.

The important thing about ‘re-wiring’ your brain after the age of 1-minute videos and instant gratification is that your goal should be to lengthen your attention span, and to do that, you need to work on making sure your need for instant gratification is quelled and replaced with an okay-ness for that delayed gratification. Not only could this help to improve grades, but it could also make your life feel just a little less rushed, and as a result, improve your mental health and wellbeing.


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