2 min read

Google Trends and Our Short Attention Spans

Google Trends and Our Short Attention Spans
Photo by Duncan Meyer / Unsplash

Texas snow storm, Trump, stimulus checks, January 6th, cicadas, Critical Race Theory, Brittany Spears, Andrew Cuomo, and school shootings. All things blazing front and center on our social media feeds, and trending topics on Google in 2021. All topics the data suggests last between a week or two and are forgotten by most people.

We all have short attention spans.

Every year Axios puts out their most searched topics on Google, trying to gain a pulse in the cultural milieu. And every year the results are the same. People are in a huff for a few days, weeks, or maybe a month on the latest breaking news story, and then we move on. Kids need a bath, bills are due, and Johnny has a basketball game on Thursday night. Next.

This doesn’t suggest these subjects aren’t worthy of our attention. Some more than others, you be the judge. But the truth is the things we lose sleep over, and the topics we get in online fights over, and sever relationships over, are not worth our time. People move on faster than you can spell cicadas.

Our ability to pay attention to anything for longer than a week is mind-boggling hard. Even the things that have negative long-term consequences are hard to keep on the font burner of our lives. How are those New Year Resolutions going?

I’m certain this is why Jesus speaks of not worrying about tomorrow and trying to add hours to the day. More hours which would just cause more anxiety. We can’t do it. Instead, the wisdom is to remember that even when the world burns, we have a heavenly father who cares about every detail, the birds, and every hair on our heads. You don’t have to be tuned into every so called Breaking News Story to live with joy and freedom.

And to be honest, you’ll only forget about it in a week or two.

Social media, the internet, and the 24-7 news cycle has created the illusion that we have to be informed, and present a judgement on every trending topic. Our attention spans won't have it, despite telling ourselves otherwise.
Instead, let's pay attention to the people and needs in our little worlds. Let's pay attention to God and his beauty, goodness, and glory expressed in all of creation.
Let's pay attention to the things that perhaps will last longer than seven days on our Twitter feed.

-RJP