Thoughtful knowledge = sound bite + (mindfulness x civility)

originofsoundbite For the last 26-31 years, we have been slowly teaching ourselves that sound bites are enough to educate us about everything in the world around us.  From what to eat (or not to eat), how to think, where to live, how to raise our children;  to who to vote for in the next election, a short sound bite is all we need.   It’s a perfectly choreographed dance of words structured together to form our opinion for us.  No thought needed!

Anything worth knowing can be absorbed and understood in 30 seconds or less, right?

Actually, current research indicates that the average adult only allots 8 seconds for somethinggold fish attention span to grab their attention, then we have approximately 4 minutes and 52 seconds until our attention spans are exhausted.  The average attention span has plummeted from 12 minutes a decade ago to just 5 minutes now, according to article, How-To Conquer Short Attention Spans by Leslie Belknap, January 7, 2015.

This growing lack of attention has risen over time with the boom of the Information Age.  We can access more, so we know more… right?

We can connect more… like through social media, so we’re more connected… right?

The speed at which we can access information or blurt out anything on our mind (social media) is continuing to increase, this has amplified our consumer demand for…… well everything, not just information.  Actually that demand is driving our social evolution.  Just look at Google’s “10 things”, #3 is “fast is better than slow”.  Google’s average search response is now just a fraction of a second.  We don’t wait for anything.

When I say social evolution, I’m not sure I’m spouting off rainbows and unicorns here.  It’s fantastic all the things that we can do faster but with all this speed…. We seem to be leaving our social niceties in the dust.  Where does civility live today?

I contend that there is a severe and growing lack of civility and empathy leading to frustration and anger in our society today.


As a small example, Frank Luntz explored the recent presidential election leading up to Election Day on November 8, 2016 and reported some interesting insights on 60 Minutes recently in a piece called, The National Mood.  He touched on many social outliers for the cause and effect that I sum up to a lack of mindfulness and civility.


Current Lesson:  In plain English… the age of the sound bite has not done us any favors.  The increasing need for speed in all we do is making us lose our basics of mindfulness and civility.  We should be concerned…. and mindful!


Sonja Gladwin, Director, Corporate Training Group at Anne Arundel Community College and Regional Leader, Global Corporate College. She leads a group of innovative training professionals that solve business challenges, providing training and business solutions that attain measurable performance results.

To learn more about mindfulness and civility and/or find out more about taking advantage of AACC as your preferred training partner and full-service business support center, visit or call 410-777-2732.  Email:



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