In the last few weeks there have been some notable deaths in the news. The most well known, of course, was the death of Steve Jobs. News of his death spread quickly over the internet and other news sources. Another death occurred this week that is probably less well-known; at least here in the States. IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon was killed in a major crash during a race last weekend. While his name isn’t nearly as well-known as Jobs’ was, his death was still all over the news during the next few days.
I mention these deaths to highlight how short attention spans are here in the US. I was watching ABC news when I learned of Wheldon’s death. They mentioned it for less than two minutes before moving on to talk about the Occupy Wall Street movement. As I watched, I realized how natural it was for me to move on to the next topic. Neil Postman calls this phenomenon the “Now….This!” effect. In this information age, we are so bombarded by information almost minute-by-minute, that we can let truly important information become irrelevant to us.
At least two noteworthy men have died in the recent past, and yet we barely spend a day or two thinking and talking about it before moving on to the next news hot off the press. Maybe we should be a little unsettled that the news has moved on so quickly from the deaths of Jobs and Wheldon to who survived the latest ‘Dancing with the Stars’ cut.