The negative effects of social media and a hectic news cycle on our attention span has been an on-going discussion in recent years--but there's been a lack of empirical data supporting claims of a 'social acceleration'.
A new study in Nature Communications finds that our collective attention span is indeed narrowing, and that this effect occurs - not only on social media - but also across diverse domains including books, web searches, movie popularity, and more.
Our public discussion can appear to be increasingly fragmented and accelerated.
Sociologists, psychologists, and teachers have warned of an emerging crisis stemming from a 'fear of missing out', keeping up to date on social media, and breaking news coming at us 24/7.
In a new study, conducted by a team of European scientists from Technische Universität Berlin, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, University College Cork, and DTU, this empirical evidence has been presented regarding one dimension of social acceleration, namely the increasing rates of change within collective attention.
The scientists have studied Twitter data from 2013 to 2016, books from Google Books going back 100 years, movie ticket sales going back 40 years, and citations of scientific publications from the last 25 years.