My family still has a problem with my selection of television shows. I don’t know why they complain about programs on Egyptian pharaoh tombs or balk at documentaries on the ferocious honey badger and how it got its name. Who wouldn’t want to see a show that describes how WWII ended? Oh, cable! So many stations, so little time.
Growing up, we had access to about ten TV channels. Three channels could hold my attention all evening. After school I watched cartoons, then switched to a different station that aired game shows like Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy, and just before bedtime I caught the sitcoms on a third channel. Today if a TV show doesn’t grab our attention in the first fifteen seconds—flip—we’re channel surfing to the next one. We want quick clips and constant blips of action. How much have our attention spans have decreased over the past twenty years?
During high school I had the opportunity to attended Quaker church services. Instead of singing and listening to a sermon, we sat for forty minutes in silence until one or two people stood up to share a brief, thought-provoking comment. Even back then it wasn’t easy to stay still for the entire time. Watch how this guy handles it:
We haven’t had a test in a long time. Try this one. Sit for twenty minutes with no talking, reading or moving, no listening to music, television or a friend. Once you’re done, tell us how it felt. How might this experience benefit you?