Our National Attention Span Reaching Crisis-Level Brevity

Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine, and Ed McMahon all just died. Oh, and Michael Jackson. Oh, and the Governor of South Carolina admitted to cheating on his wife. As did Senator John Ensign. And something about Iran?

How can anyone keep up with so much of this news, all the time! Good thing there is this internet, that allows us all to multitask and keep up with so many things. Except that the internet just immediately stops caring about something as soon as something else happens, like a puppy. "#iranelection" finally made a comeback on Twitter's trending topics, but that's probably just out of guilt. Everything else is Jackson! (And "TGIF." Whoo, weekend!)

This fuckin' week! On Monday, the disappearance of Mark Sanford was an amusing little "wacky news story," then it was a settled matter (he was hiking, his spokesman said, and that was good enough for the national press), and then it was a sex scandal, and then it was just done. The Daily Show didn't even do a full segment on his admission of an extramarital affair!

Right now the death of someone named "Tippy Tom" is topping Google Trends. Who the fuck is that? Outside of him it's mostly Michael Jackson-related, plus naked pictures of the late Farrah Fawcett the murdered wife of wrestler Chris Benoit (stay classy, etc.). So, morbid and naked is the only way to grab a slice of attention from the masses. (Oh, christ, the guy who murdered the internet amateur porn model has been extradited.)

But the marginally more respectable corners of the gossip/newsmedia will limit their round-the-clock coverage to Jackson, for the time being—Sorry, Iran! Sorry, health care and climate change! Lucky break, Mark Sanford and New York State Senators!—until something else shiny comes along.

And the reason for this state of affairs is that we who are on the internet all damn day get sick of stories faster than consumers of traditional media, and latch on to whatever is new much faster, but for some reason the producers of traditional media are gunning solely for the attention of these ADHD consumers, and so they cover exclusively what is already being talked about exclusively by us, until something else happens and we all forget whatever we were on about two hours ago. It is depressing!

But everyone in media is probably excited for the upcoming deaths of Robert Byrd and Walter Cronkite. It'll be much easier to stay on top of it: the packages are already in the can.