Don’t just browse there, do something

We have too much information available.

Social media offers us the possibility to ‘stay in touch’ and also takes our time and attention. The networks are engineered for the purpose to keep us scrolling and offer us cheap dopamine (stimulating brain chemical creating addictions), so that they can make money from advertising.

This constant checking of new™ has shortened our attention span to about 8 seconds. It has made us impatient. It has made us check the phone even if we have only a moment on an escalator.

Recap: there’s too much information, there are social media creating an addiction to new, and as a result, our attention span is roughly equivalent to that of a goldfish.

This constant exposure leads to a problem: desensitization. Or to use a pronounceable term: numbing.

We don’t respond to new information much anymore. We’re so bombarded with new, that even a stunning photo can produce a ‘yeah, seen that’ reaction. And no wonder, if we were to respond to everything we see, hear, and consume, we’d go crazy. There is no way you can respond to everything on your social wall, because it’s infinite.

We’ve grown used to reacting only by liking or heart-ing, and not by thinking or doing.

Of course I’m generalizing, but I do believe there is a real tendency (of which I’m an example) of only browsing, without taking action, without doing anything.

Why is this a meaningful problem?

What if some of that information is really useful and can dramatically improve one’s life? Say someone makes a compelling argument for meditation, or exercise, or training concentration. And the person consuming that information only goes ‘huh’ and scrolls some more.

The unnecessary information out numbs us to the information that could change our lives. The information that is relevant and useful for us. As an effect of this numbing, we don’t take action. We don’t act on the information that can help us. We only browse.

Since the amount of information out there will only increase, we need to learn to shut out more and more.

We also need to develop a habit of following through on the information that is relevant and useful. That is the challenge today. Not finding the best resource online, but actually committing and taking action, doing the work, which can result in changes in our lives.

I see this in myself. I’ve been reading a lot lately, but found myself not doing anything with the information. I filed the contents of them as ‘huh, interesting’ in my brain. I didn’t stop to think about what I can actually do with that information and how it relates to my life.

So stop.

Don’t just consume, pick something to do and go do it.

All articles