An odd thing struck me last night. I am very grateful to have an attention span that allows me to appreciate old and slower moving entertainment, whether it be movies, radio, or television. It has allowed me to enjoy things that others apparently are unable to these days.
People have been mocking the ever decreasing attention span of the modern American ever since MTV became popular in the early 1980’s. That which was flippant in many cases (at least I was) has turned out to be true as communications between humans has devolved considerably. We have gone from physically getting together to speaking on the telephone to email to texting on mobile to Facebook and finally to Twitter. Every stage has lowered both the quantity and quality of ideas communicated.
Even how we get our news has been affected. Going from five minute sound bites to five second texts is not a sign of great intelligence. It may be hip, but the price paid for it becoming stupider or at least less mentally disciplined.
Lately I have been watching more movies from yesteryear and appreciating the fact that even the action films didn’t have explosions going on every other minute. So when a friend mentioned that he was amazed how slow and boring the pacing of the original Doctor Who stories were, I was a bit taken aback. It also made me flashback to another friend who had the same problem with Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.
These are not dumb people by any measure of IQ, by the way. Upper one percent to be precise if you care about such measurements.
Perhaps it is because I am older or that I grew up in a household that only had broadcast television and did not go to movies in the theater. Maybe it is because I have worked on personal patience since my teens. It could be that I am just different that way.
I remember watching 2001: A Space Odyssey as a very little kid and understanding it. It was not the least bit boring, to the contrary it was fascinating. Then there were all the old black and white movies which were still a staple of filling in programming blocks in the 1970’s. The comedies were masterpieces of timing and the art of the slow burn was often on display.
Whatever the reasons, I find myself becoming more of an iconoclast sniping away at modern culture at nearly every turn. Entertainment especially is irking to me and the decline in sales seems to support my hypothesis that quality has gone down hill drastically. In the end, feeding short attentions spans may be the dominant factor in that decline. It certainly cannot be helping.
You know, it is a good thing I have a long attention span. When you have a chronic illness, you end up with too much time to kill and can’t be productive. Perhaps it is all a defense mechanism to keep from going crazy.
Whatever the cause, I am very grateful for it.
P.S. I am still in shock anybody can find the original appearance by the Daleks boring. Scandalized, in fact.