Lots of books have been written about both the positive and negative effects of the internet on our minds and the types of people we are becoming. For balanced, opposing views, I’d recommend Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus and Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows.
One of the reasons I really wanted to take time off to write a book was to see for myself whether I still could!
What I noticed was that the more I engaged on the Internet, the less I engaged in my own thoughts – particularly as we pushed ABS-CBN reporters onto social media like Twitter and Facebook. I could feel changes inside my own head. I respond faster – like muscle memory. I get the latest news and views, but I couldn’t seem to concentrate and focus as well as I used to.
Researchers say technology is literally changing and rewiring our brains – realigning the pathways to change the way we think. When your blackberry buzzes or your twitter tweets, it pulls your mind from whatever it’s doing. It also gives you a chemical buzz from dopamine – which apparently is highly addictive. We’ve become dopamine junkies!
That’s why twitter’s so addictive – and why you can spend hours on the internet and stand up feeling like you did something even though you didn’t.
It took me two to three months of strict twitter and facebook rationing to be able to rewire my brain and remind it to focus. I’m not where I used to be: intense concentration to write a script in 15 minutes or finish a book in a few hours. I’m working on it.
In our world today, we need both the ability to connect and engage through new technology and the ability to go inwards, focus and create. We’re inundated with information, and we need to cull and process. Otherwise, we skim the surface and recycle and retweet without adding any value, realigning the pathways of our brains to make us shallower human beings.
In the end, the limiting factor in our expanding world today is our human capacity to absorb and adapt.
Don’t forget: focus, think, write.