Digital Distraction and the Future of Connectedness

In the midst of writing about distraction I got distracted and forgot my train of thought. How fucked up is that?!

We need to fix the way we work on digital devices. Period. There has to be a better way than opening up a computer and trying to focus on the thoughts at hand, and doing everything we can not to click on email or twitter or an article or any other burning desire to click click click click react. Because that throws us off our game, and messes up our minds.

I don’t know scientifically how this process affects the human brain, but I have blind faith that somehow this phenomenon of clickhole-ing results in negative effects on our work ethics, attention spans, and abilities to focus on whatever task is laid out in front of us.

How many times have you gone out to dinner or drinks with your friends and all the do is text text text away with their thumbs while you sit there twiddling yours, waiting for their full attention? This feels like shit!

We need less time being distracted by devices and more time immersed in our surroundings and the people who are flowing by us throughout our everyday lives. Less time online dating and flirting by text message and more time finding random conversations with strangers. THOSE conversations are what lead to sparks and chemistry, not bullshit winky faces and “so what are your favorite bands?” messages sent at 1:34am on a Saturday.

Our generation of “digital natives” has grown up with some of the most amazing and truly revolutionary digital technologies available, and we’re quickly finding ways to become zombies with them through the glow of a screen and the tap of an icon.

Distractions, clickholes, bullshit late night conversations – these are negative effects of incredible technologies when they’re used without thought, awareness or mindfulness. Modern connected technologies open up our worlds in ways we never thought possible, empowering global citizens to access information, connect with others and create change in whatever areas they see fit. Strangers connect with strangers on a global scale. Everyone now has a global mouthpiece and bullhorn, for better or for worse. Everyone in the world can find a community to call home, regardless of where they live.

Yet all we’re doing are creating bullshit entertainment lists of 28 reasons you’re not good enough. 15 expensive items you’ll never own. 12562 cats that nobody gives a shit about.

What are we doing?!!? Why is there a constant need for engagement online? That word has taken on a negative meaning with most people – and don’t even get me started on “brand conversations!” WHO wants to talk with brands?! That’s not real. It’s all bullshit.

Social media and connected devices and data sensors are supposed to be used for creating change and making the world better, but the majority of culture is using them for the most ludicrous and ridiculous purposes, all with the driving idea that we need to “grow brand communities” and “increase engagement.” ENOUGH!

It’s time we stop being distracted. It’s time we live on our own accord and respond to inbound requests when we feel comfortable doing so; not when a notification pops up on our screen that says “DEAL WITH ME NOW!”

We as a society need to pay attention to how our always connected, constantly distracted habits are perceived by the person we call a friend sitting next to us. Yes it’s great that we can be connected to friends across the world, but sometimes we don’t need to have that conversation spread out over 4 days. And sometimes we don’t need to know what all our friends are doing on Saturday night when we’re stuck with our parents because they need attention too.

We’re creating a mess of digital seizures and honestly it’s tough to say what it looks like when we evolve out of it. But we must evolve. That’s the purpose of my ranting, writing, and exhaustive examples of digital narcissism and connected loneliness. When we’re always on a device we’re isolating ourselves from our immediate surroundings, which probably fuels the ongoing phenomenon of millennials being called the new “Lost Generation.”

It’s time we make a stand and learn to live in harmony with our digital devices, but not let them be the leading purpose for life.

Checking Facebook first thing in the morning and last thing before bed cannot be a healthy habit. It means you’re focused on other people and their lives, and not on yours. I’m not suggesting being selfish, but I do believe we should go to bed expressing gratitude and wake up feeling revived. When we start and end our day with other peoples’ agendas it’s near impossible to focus on our own thoughts, our own interests and our own inner driver.

Let’s start a revolution and take back life. I know there’s a way to live a fulfilling, meaningful life full of human connection and energy that still has the perks, benefits and conveniences of digital technologies. Believe me, I know. I’ve been infusing connected technologies into my life since I was a child.

This writing is all over the place, but it’s the beginning of a movement, and certainly not the last you’ll hear from me. I’m ready to make a stand.