The thought struck me in a bolt of panic on Sunday afternoon. I was riding the Acela Express, brimming with estrogen and pride as it barreled into New York City from Washington D.C. The day earlier, I joined hundreds of thousands of women there in the women’s march, the sheer scale of which couldn’t be appreciated until hours later, when those who’d participated saw aerial views of what they just were a part of.
But it was the comedown that got me. Mostly because the lifecycle of shock and horror in our world is so rapidly diminishing. It’s been proven time and time again, after every school shooting when we call for gun law reform, but then days pass. Something else happens. We look away; we move on. Nothing changes. The unrelenting pace of today’s 24/7 news cycle and the omnipresence of social media have had a Pavlovian effect, making us insatiable content receptacles. We’re all fixated on consuming what’s next in our feed, to the extent that nothing really sticks. And our withering attention spans are a big problem—it’s what distracts us from climate change; it’s what preoccupies us and prevents us from honestly tackling race relations; it’s what keeps us from organizing and effecting any sort of real change.