Your Brain on Computers: Hooked on Gadgets

I found an interesting article in the New York Times called, "Your Brain on Computers: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price".

Research showed people's ability to focus was undermined by constant bursts of information from e-mail, phone calls, texts and other incoming online information. The interesting thing was that people felt their "multitasking" was making them productive but the research showed otherwise. "Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist." We are constantly distracted, which makes us unproductive, and we're left unfulfilled.

It's a hard habit to break. The constant stimulation of new information from emails, facebook, online news, twitter, texts, cell phone calls provokes ceaseless excitement and a continuous dopamine infusion — making it addictive. Without the stimulation and dopamine, we feel bored. So, we go back to gadgets to feel better. It's like shopping and buying things to get that rush of something new. It's like being on speed all day. It exhausts us. Though in the midst of it we're not aware. So we stay hooked in.

I'm not immune to it. I used to get pulled in the same way. But then I'd always feel like crap in the end. I hated feeling dulled. It was hard though because the lure of being taken in by all the technology is intoxicating. But then I'd see I was doing less art, spending less time outside, and seldom visiting friends in person - things that make me feel happy in a peaceful way and resonate well after the experience. As a result I limit the time I spend online.

The article also said the ultimate risk of heavy technology use is that it diminishes empathy by limiting how much people engage with one another, even in the same room.

Clifford Nass, a communications professor at Stanford said, “The way we become more human is by paying attention to each other,” he said. “It shows how much you care. That empathy is essential to the human condition. We are at an inflection point,” he said. “A significant fraction of people’s experiences are now fragmented.”

I've seen a lot of families become closer after a big clutter busting. The clutter had distracted their relationships. With the clutter gone, they were genuinely happy to be re-connected.

The prospect of becoming more human and feeling a satisfaction in my heart is very attractive to me. It's rewarding to see this experience in others. I hope my blog posts help inspire this in you.

Here's the article:
Your Brain on Computers: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price