According to Rheingold (2010), “Attention is the fundamental building block for how individuals think, how humans create tools and teach each other to use them, how groups socialize, and how people transform civilizations.”  Wow, “transforming civilizations’ that’s something to take in.  As someone who is familiar and comfortable with focused attention, I see the point that Rheingold is making.  Certainly focused attention can lead to great things including creativity, innovation, productivity and more.


However, the topic of attention and the topic of social media often blend.  On the one hand, many people that engage in social media engage in spilt attention scenarios instead of focused attention.  Spilt attention is a concern to educators due to the possible diminished capacity of their students to retain pertinent information.  For someone like Dr. Rheingold, who is a lecturer on the topic of social media at UC Berkeley and Stanford University, this is a concern.  It was also a concern for Shirky who teaches social media and theory at NYU.

Yet, Rheingold (2010) relates attention and social media to “crap detection”.  Crap detection is the art of being critical with the content consumed.  Find trustworthy sources.  Rheingold states, “Finally, crap detection takes us back, full circle, to the literacy of attention.  When I assign my students to set up an RSS reader or a Twitter account, they panic.  They ask how they are supposed to keep up with the overwhelming flood of information.”  When I think of social media, that is exactly my concern.  I don’t want to take precious time out of my life to sift through irrelevant information when I have so many other important tasks and projects.  Social media sometimes bothers me.

It feels as though social media stimulus is overwhelming, but the opportunity of being connected to worthwhile sources may outweigh the work involved to sift through the crap.