As fully immersed and loyal subjects of the social media kingdom, we spend hours on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and various blogs and websites. I often feel an innate hunter-gatherer tendency to accumulate as much information as I can. If I see something I like, I have to pin it, save it to my favorites, and share it on Facebook and twitter. But is this getting out of hand a bit? I started to wonder...
Am I a digital information hoarder?
I initially began following various yogis and food/wellness experts on these platforms to gain inspiration and knowledge to further enhance my own journey to improve my health and happiness. Alas, what began as a well intentioned Sunday stroll has now become an all out sprint to the front lines with a serious case of a-need-to-be-in-the-know.
When was the last time you waited in the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store and didn’t whip out your phone to scan your news feed for 10 seconds, because having nothing going on in your head except your own thoughts was unbearable?
At any given moment I'll have 10 tabs open in my browser. Does this sound familiar? Even when I'm not in front of the computer, my iPhone is practically glued to my hand at all times. I spend hours "window shopping" the internet without actually investing in much quality content. When was the last time you read a whole article anywhere? Probably never.
So I came to a conclusion: Pinterest has ruined my brain. Well, I can't blame Pinterest in general, but it got me thinking... The ways in which we communicate and connect these days are boiled down to a single picture, status update, or 140 characters. When we spend 1-3 seconds looking at something, do our brains begin to only respond to small, quick bits of input? I find this kind of scary, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Are we unknowingly deprogramming our brains from attending to something for longer than a minute?
And in turn, are we craving bits of things without actually getting to something real and substantial? No wonder I'm never satisfied. It's like popcorn; little pieces of nothing that you crave but doesn't fill you up, only leaves you wanting more.
What is it doing to our happiness?
We're constantly evaluating our lives in comparison to others. Every time I see a cool yoga posture on Instagram I think, "I wish I could do that." Or when a blog shows someone's gorgeously decorated living room I think, "I want my living room to look like that." And food is the worst! Food pictures evoke thoughts such as, "I should be eating more of that superfood" or "Yeah right Pinterest, my reindeer cookies will never look like that!"
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly bombarded with opportunities to compare our lives with others.
And let's face it, nobody wants to follow someone who complains about the crap in their lives. We choose who we follow because they have great pictures, or are aspirational to us in some way. The problem with that is our lives will never measure up to those on our social networks.
My observation is two-fold:
1. With our addiction to social media, our brains are constantly craving short bits of information while becoming deprogrammed to attend to things for a significant amount of time.
2. We're beginning to lose a sense of our own happiness by always seeing the great things others are doing, and comparing ourselves to them.
Is there a lesson in all of this? Maybe by being AWARE of it, we can become better at realizing when we're mindlessly cruising the internet, or feeling inadequate because Susie-yoga-instructor is doing an inverted body back-bend handstand.
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