Goldfish pay more attention than humans (but goldfish can’t make gifts)

Tom Ahern

Read a chapter from Tom’s new book… as usual… it’s fabulous!


Chapter 14 

Goldfish pay more attention than humans (but goldfish can’t make gifts)
Every day thousands of messages aim for your brain, to reach your heart, mind . . . and wallet. It’s a well-funded assault, too . . . via web, streaming TV, your car’s radio, free newspapers, magazines, roadside advertising, flyers pinned to bulletin boards, bumper stickers in rush-hour traffic, labels on bottles and cans . . . and, more personally, mail, email, messaging, phone . . . and stampeding, unrestrained, unregulated social media.

These messages all want a piece of your time … your loyalty … your attention … your belief system … and your money/support.

Thing is? There’s always an ulterior motive. Suckers beware.

You knew that, though. Is it any wonder your defenses are up?

So you sort the incoming messaging into three piles:

  1. Stuff you can’t ignore because, if you do, something bad will happen. (Bills, a jury duty summons, an email from your mom.)
  2. Stuff you can safely ignore and nothing bad will happen. (Pretty much everything else.)
  3. And a little bit of stuff that especially interests or intrigues you.

Nonprofit communications (appeals, newsletters) don’t enjoy special exemptions.

Your charity’s donor communications are part of the onslaught. You are an intrusion, headed for pile #2 (“can safely ignore”).

Every item your organization sends is guilty until proven innocent. Guilty of what? Guilty of wasting MY time with material that serves YOUR purpose (to raise money) . . . but that doesn’t interest or emotionally reward the reader.

So: what IS your goal, your obsession? To earn a place in pile #3. If you do, you’ll raise more money.

We’re losing to the goldfish

Goldfish now have a longer attention span than humans. Truth, not fiction: science measures these things.

As researchers reported in 2013, goldfish will pay attention for ten seconds on average. Humans could only manage eight seconds that same year.

It wasn’t always that way. Human attention spans used to be longer; as recently as 2003, we could out-stare the goldfish. But onslaughts of email . . . clickbait . . . pinging smart phones . . . Twitter and the ilk: together, they’re turning our ability to concentrate into a thing of the

Research reported by Multiview in 2016 found that “we check our smartphones an average of 46 times a day—a 40 percent increase from just two years ago.” Is this cause for alarm? No. It’s cause for consideration.

We’re heading ever deeper into the Age of Constant Distraction.

You can’t fight it. You have to work with it.

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  • Tom Ahern