It is a dramatic title. “Destroy” means damaging, attacking, ruining. The truth is that the news, social media and other sources of information in the internet are damaging our ability to focus and to be present. Even google emails are doing that.
These sources use technologies to distract us, to make us buy more, to get us to scroll more and longer because the more time we spend on Facebook, the more money they make, according the research of Johann Hari, brilliant writer and journalist.
So the question for each one of us is this: Are we using social media or it is using us?
I have caught myself in a totally mindless state scrolling on Facebook and Instagram, and falling for their smart technology of infinite feeds, so infinite scrolling. The problem is our time is finite, our attention is delicate. Our brains have the ability to hold one thought at the time and we are bombarding with tons of useless information and news that are not based on truth, that are based on what sells, on what gets our attention for the longest. Technology wants us to become addicts, they succeed on this daily.
This reminds me of what has been happening in the food industry, where food corporations hire chemical engineers to specifically design foods that makes us addicted. They fill and modify “natural” foods with chemicals that we can’t pronounce, with more salt, more sugar and look the result – we have become the most obese, anxious and depressed nation in the world. It is no coincidence that Covid affected USA in huge numbers, a chemically, mentally, physically and emotionally stressed body has a weak immune system. It has no chance to fight a strong virus.
The same is happening with technology, they design algorithms to rewire our brain, to change our behaviors. This is far from negative thoughts or conspiracies now. We have a Netflix “Social Dilemma” where ex-employees of Google and Facebook admit what they were doing. We have the brilliant book “Stolen Focus” by Johann Hari sharing more testimonials from engineers of Silicon Valley companies.
The truth is out friends, now what are we going to do about it?
I suggest we do the same thing we did when we discovered the evil behind processed foods. We make different choices, at the end of the day it is your choice to decide where you place your attention or what you put in your body.
Neuroscience tells us and proves to us that :
“Where you place your attention is where you place your energy.”
For the last 10 years I have been teaching individuals and groups at the work force about the importance of managing energy – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. That means we need to reclaim our attention, we need to make time for real thinking, we need to reconnect with our bodies, we need to go inside to learn what is truly going on us with our bodies and mind.
With a culture that is constantly putting attention on external distractions, people forgot how to connect with someone by truly listening, they disconnected from the body which is the basis of early childhood trauma. They are getting their brains highjacked by comparison, anger and fear. The bodies are flooded with stress hormones that keep us in survival. No wonder most are not thriving in life.
Reading Johann Hari’s book helped me to understand why I have perceived the loss of empathy and common sense through the pandemic. Facebook became a land mine when it came to any information about health and virus. I would post something about building a healthy immune system and the post would literally get attacked in minutes. I was appalled. We were not able to have any positive, constructive interaction on social media. Facebook became a jungle, I would enter and be on alert for an angry attack.
And there is a reason for that. Their algorithms promote attack, blame, bad according to Hari’s research.
Would you hang out with someone who will do anything to get you angry, emotionally charged, anxious? Well friends, anytime we enter that internet jungle, we are risking losing our emotional intelligence and our mental stability. Is it worthy? Is is worth to lose 23 minutes of your time in the middle of your work hour? That is the cost when we switch a task, when we get a ding for a new email, a notification from IG, a text message – 23 minutes is how much time it takes for our brain to go back to focus and be in flow state.
Overwhelm is one of the complaints I hear the most from high achievers, busy executives and people at the work force. “Too much to do and not enough time”. And here we are as a culture giving away 23 minutes of our time several times a day(multiply that), we are giving away our state of calm and present.
We are giving up on our goals, dreams and our health when we give out attention and energy mindlessly.
Technology is shaping our culture by rewiring our brains and influencing our behaviors.
You are culture, I am culture, we have incredible power to shift our culture back to connection, presence, vitality, health and positivity. We have the power to thrive!
You want to see the reality? Take a walk around your neighborhood school at the time kids are arriving, or during their break. They are walking with their heads down staring at the phone, messing up with their brains and spines. In groups, they are connected to their phones, not each other. It is sad to me.
With all this said, we still have the power. It is time to change our behaviors regarding the media. If you have an addiction to it, it will be harder for you, no doubt and yet, it can be done.
Start by a decision. If this blog resonates, make a decision to cut the distractions that are stealing your focus, time and energy.
I leave my phone in silence in a different room when I am working or studying , different room because I don’t have the discipline to not touch the phone to check for messages and Instagram, yes, they get me as well.
During your work hours, turn off the email notifications on your computer, it will save you 23 minutes several times a day. Do the math, how much free time you will have more to play and rest?
Replace the distractions you are eliminating with healthier habits like reading a good book for 30 minutes. Doing breath work for 3 minutes every 90 minutes of work. Hydrating your body with pure water every hour. Going for a 15 minutes walk at lunch, calling a friend to say hello…and so on.
It is not enough to eliminate a bad habit, we have to introduce a good habit so we can get that dopamine boost. We need to feed the reward system in the brain with something positive for our minds and bodies, otherwise, we go back to the old scrolling for hours a day.
There is so much more to say about the cost of technology when we are not conscious.
I am not saying here technology is all bad, but their intentions are not good either.
There are technologies that target health and well-being. Heart Math is one of them. They create devices to help us to develop brain and heart coherence for example, which helps us to retrain the body to become present, and calm and regulation of stress hormones.
There are technologies that help us meditate, sleep, track exercise, etc.
The main thing is BE CONSCIOUS. I still use Instagram, Facebook. The difference now is that when I use these platforms, I use it consciously. I make time to use it, a time to get off.
Technology can only hurt us when we are unconscious and unfortunately most people are unconscious. They are “awake” and yet, not fully present in their bodies, not focused on what matters, not clear with their goals and intentions.
So maybe to start, if you want to change, is to get clear about your life, clear about your values. Reflect on a time when you are older and look back at your life, what do you want to say about yourself? Are you being the type of person that you like? Start with big questions and then assess your lifestyle choices, and ask, on every single choice:
“Is this in alignment with my goals and intention?” It is that simple.
Much love, Alex.
P.S: To learn more about how to be more focused and have clarity on goals, consider booking a session with me by sending an email to [email protected]