There was once a time when my family got the weekly edition of the New York Times in print and I’d devour the whole paper in one sitting. These days, though, my media consumption usually begins during a morning lecture, as I scour the Times’ website for headlines and then click over to the Opinion section to read half of 3 different columns. Eventually I’ll tune back into lecture, where I’ll shift my attention between the class’s lecture slides, the notes on my MacBook, and intermittent Push notifications from my iPhone—AP source: House votes to undo Obama… follows You were beaten in Trivia Crack. Like most others in the lecture hall, I’ll spend 90 minutes with my attention focused on at least three separate screens.
Anytime between classes will be spent with my iPhone, speed-reading articles that appear on my twitter feed. A photo series posted by The Atlantic, a review of a television show from The A.V. Club, an angry think piece trending on Gawker.
There’s been a shift for me in the past few years, in that the vast majority of my media consumption comes from a handful of trusted websites and blogs. Facebook increasingly feels like a chore, and lately my newsfeed is almost entirely comprised of clickbait from content-mills or misinformation posted by a distant relative who believes in UFOs.
Whereas I’m plugged in throughout the day, my dad gets his information in two windows—by reading the morning paper in his office and watching cable news on the couch at night. I can confidently say that I consume more news than him per day, yet I’m hesitant to call myself more informed. My generation has proved a willing audience for the hyper speed news cycle, but I’m beginning to suspect that overstimulation is preventing us from absorbing much of what we consume.
During breaks from school my dad will bring the day’s newspaper home from work and I’ll snag it, appreciating the smell and feel of ink on paper. The actual printed stories, almost a day old by now, are entirely irrelevant to me.