Opinion

LinkedIn, Microsoft lock in to rise of short attention spans

Life is short. Our ability to remain focused is considerably less.

Consequently, the biggest enemy to indefinite political discussion is the inability of the current business community at large to remain focused for even short amounts of time.

Combine the short attention span of the average person scanning their professional social media feeds with the voluminous quantity of information—fake, real, good or otherwise, and you will no doubt be sure a recipe of inertia and apathy results.

How else to explain why there are no efforts by Microsoft to diminish the amount of political dialogue occurring on LinkedIn?

There is the argument that politics and business are intertwined.  I agree to a certain extent. However, at what place in time does the supply of political discourse satisfy the demand? I’d argue the social and business tipping points are already well underway.

Strangely enough, my main guess is Microsoft will continue to do nothing about the amount of non-productive political posts residing within the shiny, gated-wall confines of its newest acquisition.

Political debate is exhausting unless you’re a robot.

Bots can feed Twitter with incendiary one liners to the point where a riot ensues.

Microsoft stays the course with respect to this phenomenon by allowing it to run its course. This has not gone unnoticed by those of us with something less than short attention spans.

The simple fact of the matter is that enough people are still interested in engaging in political distraction no matter the form of social media. And customers are good for business and being marketed to—no matter what they’re talking about.

3-bumps-of-a-kinder-kindAre our attention spans really getting shorter?

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, “The person who has the most time to waste typically has the last word in any online debate.”

The other contenders for online flame war winners are those of us in possession of short attention spans (growing increasingly shorter). These folks move from commenting in one thread to the next, with nary a break for reflection or outcome, other than ridiculously self-declaring themselves victor.

Do we really win anything?

Sports Illustrated has a feature called “Signs of the Apocalypse.” I would venture to say the prolific number of political posts on LinkedIn is indeed one such sign; if not of the Apocalypse, then at least evidence of a civilization in decline.

The underbelly of mean-spiritedness that is intrinsically laced in these exchanges is only eclipsed by their propensity to feature poor grammar, spelling and articulation. In the quest for attention and to be declared victorious in what amounts to little more than a verbal slip-fight, we demonstrate our insatiable capacity for ugliness, nearsightedness and our preference for overwhelmingly non-productive endeavors.

Yes, life is short, but this acknowledged tenet doesn’t seem to hold sway over how poorly we behave on LinkedIn when we’re supposed to be furthering our business acumen or careers.

Sadly, Microsoft and LinkedIn are betting we’re incapable of stopping. They all too well understand this ubiquitous form of professional engagement, negative societal implications notwithstanding, is ultimately good for business.

 

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