Here’s the thing about technology. It’s supposed to make us better. And, sure, there are tons of examples of technology doing just that. But social media is a glaring example of technology making us worse.
Think about how often you look at your phone. Do you check it first thing in the morning? Every hour? Every half hour? More? Are you scrolling through a mindless newsfeed while your watching TV or talking with another human? Do you check it during work?
You definitely answered “yes” to one of these questions, if not all of them. And you are wasting a lot of your life.
The human brain evolved to be hyper-aware of big, bright, shiny things. During the early days of man, hyper-awareness was used to identify potential predators and other things to indicate danger. It’s a protection system that’s built into all of us. Our brains are constantly aware of surroundings in order to protect us from potential harm.
Social media companies have gotten really, really good at triggering that part of our brains. Notifications, emails, and texts have replaced lions, tigers, and bears. That’s why when you post a picture on Instagram, for example, you are compelled to constantly check in to see how many likes that picture has received. The “likes” are a modern “shiny thing.”
The problem with constantly checking for the shiny things, when there is no threat or danger, is that we are wiring our brains to be distracted. The more the brain does a specific activity, the more it lays down wiring to ingrain that process into the deeper brain, making it easier to perform the task next time. This is why the more you practice an instrument, the better you get.
Here are some statistics from a study conducted by the University of California-Irvine:
- Every single time you get distracted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to refocus.
- Distractions take up about 2.5 hours of work productivity every day (or 70 hours per month).
Could you use an extra 70 hours every month? Think about how much more you could accomplish.