Blinkist and the shortening American attention span

I’ve been following the news about Blinkist, the new app that promises to deliver “the key ideas from bestselling nonfiction books in just 15 minutes”.

The premise of Blinkist is that no one has time to read anymore. We’re all just so distracted nowadays, and our attention spans are so short. So we need things like…Blinkist.

But why is that, exactly?

Work? Yes, most of us have jobs. But did people not have jobs in 1999? Or 1979?  As I seem to recall, the job is not exactly a twenty-first century innovation.

But who has time to read an actual book…when there’s all those updates on Facebook…and did you hear about that latest outrage on Twitter? And you’ve got loads of text messages coming in….all of which are urgent and important, of course.

Just the other day, I was driving in suburban Cincinnati, when a woman about my age drove through a red light and nearly ran into me.

She wasn’t drunk or high. She wasn’t fleeing from the police.

She was talking on her frigging cell phone.

Yes, I understand that things change. I don’t expect this to be the America I grew up in anymore. But maybe this mantra about the inevitable shortening of the American attention span is something we ought to resist a bit more.

Do we really need an “app” to condense books for us? Or do we need more time with books, and a bit less time with cell phones and their many “apps”?