Patience, grasshopper. All in good time

So let it be written…

Caught the BC Lions home opener last week. It went something like this.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were winning and so, with plenty of time still left on the clock, streams of disappointed Lions fans left their seats, and presumably the stadium, to sulk at home or wherever else the next best thing was.

I guess they weren’t gettin’ no satisfaction, and so moved on.

What they ended up missing is some amazing comeback football, with the Lions defeating Saskatchewan 35-32 in nail-biting overtime action.

It got me thinking how impatient people are these days and how truncated our attention spans have become. Particularly in this case, seeing as watching a football game is supposed to be fun, and therefore a pastime.

If I haven’t lost you already, consider these attention span statistics, courtesy of the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Their sources are the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the Associated Press. The institute defined attention span as “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.”

Still with me? Good. Fifteen years ago, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Today it’s 8.25.

The average attention span of a goldfish, on the other hand, is nine seconds.

Seven per cent of people forget their own birthdays from time to time and 25 per cent of teenagers forget major details of their close friends and family.

The institute also sources scholars Harald Weinreich, Eelco Herder and Mattias Mayer, who authored a report called “Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Use.”

Contemplating just shy of 60,000 page views on the Internet, they found that only four per cent of views last more than 10 minutes, 17 per cent last less than four seconds, and that the percentage of words read on web pages with 111 words or less is 49 per cent. The percentage of words read on an average web page, which the scholars figured to be 593 words, is 28 per cent.

Still with me? Good. The World Religions consider patience to be one of the greatest

virtues. How many of us have seen a colleague or friend completely flip out on a computer? How many of us have witnessed road rage? Seen somebody freak out on a waitress or cashier?

A study involving millions of Internet users (Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behaviour, by Krishnan and Sitaraman, ACM Internet Measurement Conference, Nov. 2012) revealed that people lose their patience in as little as two seconds while waiting for their online video to play.

The study also revealed that those who ‘enjoy’ faster Internet connections are less patient than people who have slower Internet connections.

If we keep going on like this, one can only imagine how frustrating life will be in future, when the people of tomorrow, operating at the pace of hummingbirds, look back on us as though we were starfish. Of course, you don’t want to be patient to the point of stagnation or where you fail to act when it’s prudent to do so. Some might call that sloth.

But studies show impatience leads to frustration, anger, irritability, stress, anxiety, vexation, restlessness, and is ultimately bad for your heart.

It’s not always easy to patient. But who can deny that it has its perks?

Had those football fans stuck it out just a little while longer, they would have enjoyed some great action. Alas, they did not, and so, did not.

I think Aristotle put it best when he said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

So be patient, grasshopper, all in good time.

P.S. Still with me?

…So let it be done

Tom Zytaruk can be reached at tom. zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com.

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