Has the Instant nature of technology really ruined my attention span?

I recently stumbled upon an article called, “How I Busted Out of My Addictive Technology Loop,” written by none other than Martin Lindstrom (author of Brandwashed), for none other than FastCompany. In this article, Lindstrom addresses the tight grip that technology seems to have formed around society. Nowadays, most of us are constantly connected in some aspect or another, and we all have our go-to inter-vice. For some people it’s Facebook, for others it’s Twitter, and, for a small percentage, it’s absolutely everything.You know the type, people who rely upon their smartphone or computer for pretty much everything–  If you’re thinking about me, I’m definitely not that guy. Hold on a second, I need to check my Facebook. I just got a push notification.

Anyway, throughout this article Lindstrom starts to delve into the idea that the more reliant on technology we become, the more our brain deteriorates. You’ve heard this idea before, right? Now that technology is so incredibly streamlined and accessible to the masses, people have started to adapt it as an informal extension of their brains. We have the equipment to store pretty much any piece of information that a contact book does, right? How many of your closest friends’ telephone numbers can you recite when asked? Only the hot chicks? I know Jenny’s number, that’s for sure. It’s 867-5309, but I digress. The argument is: since we use technology to store information that our brain has the ability to systematically store, we are missing out on some important cognition. Apparently our brain power deteriorates because of it. I guess it seems pretty logical, especially considering there was no other technology that we used to store data before computers, right? The rolodex was never a thing, or anything.

I get that there is science behind it. There’s the whole thing about spell check making us  worse at spelling, and the other thing about how this generation is more introverted because of social networking sites. It’s all very scary, I guess. Technology could be the death of us. Except, technology was the life of us to begin with. It was the mental development that told us to create tools that gave us a tactical advantage over the other species’.

Do you see what I’m saying here? So many people are afraid to embrace innovation. They are convinced that it is somehow bad for us. Not to mention there is an ever growing stigma around being online, having privacy, and losing our brains to computers. Take it from someone like me. I grew up around computers. I was always in the spelling bee when I was a kid. I’m a fountain of meaningless factoids, phone numbers, and tutorial material. Sure, I have trouble spelling some words sometimes (for which, spell chock is my saving grace)... and occasionally I need to check my facts on things, but never has a using a computer made me feel like I was relying upon instant access to things to get me through the day. Maybe it’s because I grew up around computers, but you always have to remain skeptical. You always have to be prepared for when things crash.

Anyway, lets bring it all back. What the hell am I saying? My attention is all over the place. Probably because the instant nature of technology has ruined my attention span. What I’m saying is that we’re always expecting things to blow up, guys. Since I’ve been alive, we’ve predicted the end of the world 3 different times and it has never happened. Yes, perhaps the internet and technology is making it easier to do mundane tasks, and store data that we would otherwise have to repeat 7 times to store in our brains; and maybe it is even keeping us from using a certain portion of our brains regularly, but I highly doubt we have enough information right now to prove that this is detrimental to our everyday lives. I certainly don’t agree with the radical reaction of, “Well, I’m not going to use technology at all, then.” If you say that to yourself, then you’re making sure you get left in the dust. And who knows, this could very well be natural selection at work. Make sure you don’t win yourself a Darwin award.

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