And the worst thing is that I’m addicted to stuff that doesn’t really exist in the physical world. Well, that’s basically the description of any addiction really. People don’t do coke because blowing white powder up your nose feels so incredibly good but because of what happens in your brain after you do it. And that’s also another thing that makes my addiction that much weirder. I don’t really get a kick out of it.
I’m addicted to information. Not so much information as a regular intake of it. Infoxication as I like to call it.
As soon as my brain starts to get a bit bored I must feed it. The hand goes into my pocket, takes out the phone, unlocks it and starts checking my social media accounts.
I checked it five minutes ago.
Never mind, there could be something new.
There was nothing interesting on there for the last month and yet…
Maybe. Maybe there’s a notification. Which I will check and forget about the next minute. Before I know it I’m scrolling through pictures of people I don’t even know.
Off to Instagram. Same thing there.
No new e-mails. Last checked: 7 minutes ago.
Any updates in the app store?
There’s the news section in the new iOs. London in the orange threat zone? Scientists studied why chicken cannot taste. North Korea has the H-bomb.
How’s my blog stats doing? Two visitors from Indonesia, three from Britain and a few clicks from Slovenia.
The phone goes back to my pocket by which time I already forgot what I just read.
What’s the time?
Aaaand, we’re back.
It’s like my brain needs constant stimulus. I’m really making sure I’m keeping my brain as lazy as possible. What’s the date Hiroshima was bombed? No worries, I’ll google it. What’s the actresses name from The Shining? Give me a second.
In the last few years I’ve noticed I have serious problems with my memory – or so I thought. It just seems impossible to memorize anything. And researching my problem a bit I found I’m far from being alone.
There’s loads of people like me making a lazy potato mash out of something that produced the Divine Comedy, made deaf people hear and put men on the Moon.
Before I go on I would like to acknowledge that I am aware that what I’m writing about in this post is as far away from drug or any other serious addiction as I am from Scarlett Johanson at this moment. That being said I just read an article about a pupil in a Slovenian school that has been taken away his phone. After the gadget was taken away from him he threw himself on the floor, embraced himself in a fetal position, started screaming and refusing any other form of communication. Quite a strong indicator that something is terribly wrong if you ask me.
But why this constant need to check all this information if there’s no real reward for it? I don’t get any satisfaction out of it. I don’t get high on it and I don’t feel any better after. Is it just this constant hope that maybe once there will be this ultimate notification, picture, e-mail or what have you that we all know doesn’t exist? I didn’t use to be this way. I could be alone without any device or other means of entertainment and keep myself busy and satisfied creating my own worlds. I had quite good memory as well, memorizing page-long monologues in a single afternoon.
It’s easy to blame the school for putting so much pressure on learning and testing that you don’t want to come near it as soon as you finish with it. While there is some truth in that, there is no excuse to just let it be and become a dull technology-reliant sponge.
So I challenged myself and started learning texts by heart again. Supposedly that’s a good method to reengage your brain and keep it active. One stanza per week – about half an hour each day – and I am proud to say I was soon able to recite all 18 stanzas of Poe’s Raven. Took me two days to learn an opening movie monologue. Whenever I was on a bus and wanted to check my Facebook I started repeating the verses. Felt much more rewarding as well. Following my small success I quit Facebook and introduced ban on Youtube related video clicking.
I don’t think a complete ban of social media is a solution as there are benefits in it as well. Limiting it to it’s basic purpose should make sense. And as for the constant I-need-to-check-my-phone impulses there are a few solution that seemed reasonable enough to me.
Since there is no real need to immediately check any social media – honestly, what information is there that cannot wait for at least a few days – I simply say “I’ll do it later”.
I read books every day for at least an hour and it got pretty annoying with my brain jumping out of story every five minutes demanding a new dose of some other information. And while my mind still keeps jumping around when I start reading it gets focused after twenty or so minutes of reading. I’ll just do it later.
Second thing is turning the impulse around so instead of feeding it information force it to create something. Anything. Just come up with something. Relive a moment. Or just focus on an existing moment.
Another thing that definitely helps is a day without a computer. Once a week, make it during the weekend, take a break and don’t use your computer. Try not using your phone as well – after all it is a computer. Let your head and mind rest for a day and just wander off. Rely on yourself. Ask people for directions, read the signs and live through the dullness of the moment. There’s nothing wrong with being bored every now and then. That’s part of life as well.
The last thing – and probably the most important one – is meditation. I once read that every person should meditate at least twenty minutes per day. If you’re too busy to do that than double the time. I couldn’t agree more.
It’s a bloody struggle from the beginning with your thoughts jumping around like a group of drunk nuns on Easter but it really makes you control your mind. Not mentioning calming you down and relaxing.
In the world of technology ignoring it is not the easiest thing to do. Especially when all these electronics are not the cheapest things around and we treat them as rewards. And they shouldn’t be ignored. After all, they are the means of progress and they really do make our lives easier if used as they were meant to be used. It’s just that it’s so easy to slip into this comfort zone of being controlled by all the interactive media and gadgets while it should be the other way around.
Consider your computers and smartphones tools. You use your hammer when you need to drive a nail. You don’t go checking it every five minutes.