Well, I think we know the answer to that. But is it killing you too?
Because of your technology-damaged attention span, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t read this entire piece. If you aren’t sure how your attention span rates, take the quiz; I didn’t have the patience, probably because of my technology abuse issues. As something of a techno-addict, I’ve been thinking about rehab for a while; just quitting it cold turkey and then re-introducing it slowly to see how much I can handle. Why? Because for a number of years, I’ve unscientifically asserted that many of the mental and emotional maladies that people suffer these days – fatigue, patchy memory, poor attention, anxiety – were due to the media overload most of us experience. Well, now some of the science is in. Yes, you can be addicted to technology. And yes, it is affecting not only our relationships, work, and home life, but the health of our children as well. One of the most dramatic negative impacts I personally see on an ongoing basis has to do with attention span and disruption of time and activities. So aside from the more obvious irritation caused by poor texting and cell phone etiquette, why should this be a big deal? The Wired piece Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains includes an interview with Maggie Jackson (author of the rather dramatically-titled Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age) in which she points out that while “Gadgets and technologies give us extraordinary opportunities, the potential to connect and to learn“, our “culture of interruption” gives us little time to reflect on decisions and to “depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships“, which as she puts it “breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding“. To me these basic ideas should be enough to get one thinking about reassessing their technology use, but maybe you need more. What if your cell phone really DID cause cancer? In spite of the lack of peer-reviewed empirical evidence so far, it’s not just educated Wall St bankers that think they do, there’s also at least one credible scientist. We’ll be back with a followup on how to unplug and refocus a little, provided we don’t unplug first. But how about you? Do you find technology is becoming more of stress-inducer than a life-enhancer? If so, how?