The Herman Trend Alert|
May 23, 2001
Do you find it more difficult to concentrate today? Do you also feel the need to pay attention to many more things then ever before? Are you bombarded with continual messages from more sources? If you're like most of us, you give a little bit of attention to a number of things at the same time. A new buzzword for this phenomenon is Continuous Partial Attention.
Multi-tasking has moved into our heads as we juggle thousands of thoughts about a wide range of topics-all at the same time. The Great Fear is that we might miss something important. The demands of different-and somehow competing-different aspects of our lives keep us on edge and off-balance, as all these thoughts come in simultaneously. With the demand of giving attention to a lot of things at once, we struggle to filter out the unnecessary messages . . . whichever ones they are.
Citizens of the future will have bountiful opportunities to endure a greater volume of these messages. Continuous Partial Attention must be developed as a skill, a talent for the new millennium. Or is there an alternative? With the volume of information and stimuli increasing so rapidly, can we ever keep up with it?
Many will seek to reduce the number of things competing for attention. If there is too much coming in at the same time, we'll fear that our brains will hit overload. For some people, it hurts to experience the mental discomfort of Continuous Partial Attention. People will search for ways to turn off anything that sends stimuli continually.
A significant portion of our population will turn off radios and televisions most-if not all-of the time. They'll cancel subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. They'll retreat to the peace and solitude of their homes, withdrawing from stimulus-heavy society.
The years ahead will find some people heavily connected and involved with everything that happens in the fast-moving world around them. Others will reduce the load, not needing to win, but also not withdrawing from the race. And others will drop out, seeking quiet serenity.
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