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Dealing with my attention crisis

As the amount of new information produced in the world every day escalates, so I find my attention span decreasing in equal and opposite proportion.

As more people in South Africa start publishing their own media online — on Facebook, blogs, videos and podcasts — so my choices about what to pay attention to become more complex.

Previously a TV guide and a well-honed sense of where to start in the newspaper were sufficient to keep me up to date with what was happening around me.

Nowadays it seems like the bar has been raised. Not only am I expected to know what is happening in Iraq, but also on all my friends’ blogs in their personal lives. After all this catching up, I have only just enough time left to publish my opinion of it all quickly on my blog (which links to my Facebook, of course).

Friends and family have noticed my eyes darting when I’m talking to them. I find myself anxious to get back to my email, lest it grow beyond the dreaded 500-unread-messages mark and completely overwhelm me.

It’s a pity that as the advertising industry in South Africa gets better and better at what it does, so my ability and will to pay attention to its creation is slipping, fast. More than that, I’m starting to feel slightly resentful of anyone who solicits pieces of my valuable attention without my permission.

I have realised that if I were to pay attention to all the people who want me to do so, I wouldn’t have any time left to eat or sleep.

So I’m becoming ruthless. I no longer want email — I want me-mail. All the rest is canned. And if I feel like you or your company is not giving me good enough returns on the time I spend listening to you, you can expect me to leave and not come back — I’m not short on alternatives now.