In the last decade or so, there is a growing problem of fans being injured by foul balls and bats flying into the stands at baseball games. Discussion of fan-protection is becoming more important. Why are spectator injuries becoming more prevalent?
Photos at the moment of impact of a foul ball or accidently thrown bat show dozens of people in the photo frame, with many looking down at their smart phones. In an effort to miss nothing, they miss a lot. Like a baseball screaming toward their head.
There are no more foul balls or flung bats in today’s game than fifty years ago, but fifty years ago we were paying much closer attention to the actual game.
Thirty years ago this week, the world started to change in a big way, when the first Nintendo Entertainment System released. It started an exploding global revolution that took a tendency to look at screens honed by generations of watching movies and television and elevated it to never-before-seen levels in the subsequent decades with the growth of video games and computer generated images.
And then there are smart phones.
The medical community recommended that children should spend no more than two hours per day interacting with a screen, yet research shows that by the time kids are in high school, a majority are spending far more than that per day. And it appears from the research that girls are doing it at a higher percentage than boys, so forget about this being a male-only issue.
And it is not just about the kids either.
Seventy year-olds are just has bad as seventeen year olds when it comes to looking at their phones constantly. God forbid you miss a video during a lunch with friends of your grandson giggling with milk coming out of his nose.
Because of the thousands of messages that bombard us in a modern society, amplified by the use of various communication technologies, we are now living in a world where people cannot focus on any one thing longer than a few minutes at a time.
Book readers are preoccupied, distracted and have such short “patience” spans that if authors don’t write in a manner to hold their attention, they won’t.
Screens are here to stay and are everywhere. The poorest nations in the world install smart-phone infrastructure before they have running water.
Authors and publishers need to adjust how they write and publish for 21st century reality. As much as you might like it to be different, none of this will ever change back to some make-believe idyllic time where kids spent hours in libraries and there are bookstores in every town.
Information is instant, gratification is immediate and patience-span for anything but instant and immediate is non-existent.
No matter what format a book is in, the reader carries with them their “patience span” and will expect to be pulled through by the content of that book.
Good books and writing will be read, like always, but you might ask yourself whether a reader will ever make it through the first few pages of what you wrote.
They might not have the patience.
See my tongue-in-cheek post from last December on the subject of communicating with a distracted audience. Click Here to read “Communicating to a Distra (Hey look at that!) cted Audience.”