Social Media Produces Lots of Unfinished Business

Readability

Social Media Produces Lots of Unfinished Business

[cap­tion id=“attachment_107452” align=“alignright” width=“300”] Your atten­tion span after smok­ing the Social Media pipe.[/caption]

by baldilocks

From our beloved Mr. Reynolds:

I think a lot about whether social media are good or bad for soci­ety. I’ve writ­ten about how they make it eas­ier for peo­ple to form mobs, facil­i­tate the weaponiza­tion of emo­tion, and allow bad ideas to spread like dis­ease through early civilizations.

But I also have to won­der: Are social media bad for our brains? (…)

Of course, this isn’t the first time that tech­nol­ogy has changed people’s men­tal processes. Pre­lit­er­ate peo­ple had a lot less access to knowl­edge than peo­ple who can read — but pre­lit­er­ate peo­ple tended to have amaz­ing mem­o­ries by today’s standards. (…)

Now, of course, actual bound books are fad­ing, and peo­ple read much more on screens. As a result they tend to mul­ti­task — read some­thing for a bit, check email, go to see whether you’ve got­ten any “likes” on Face­book, go back to read­ing for a bit, check Twit­ter. And social media tend to make that worse by sub­ject­ing users to a vast stream of bite-​size it. (…)

Deep think­ing is becom­ing less com­mon, and worse, this seems to be par­tic­u­larly true among the academic/​political/​intellectual class that’s most on Twitter.

Glenn says he doesn’t have a solu­tion to this. I do, but it takes per­sonal will.

I, too, found that too much Social Media was harm­ful to my con­cen­tra­tion process. It was tak­ing me much longer to fin­ish read­ing books than it used to; some­times I wouldn’t fin­ish them at all since I fre­quently use e-​books and audio-​books down­loaded from the LA Pub­lic Library. Another symp­tom is per­va­sive: many open browser tabs. And this is the worst: the degen­er­a­tion of my abil­ity to con­cen­trate enough on an idea in order to write about it sen­si­bly and to con­nect one idea with another. (Thank God that I wrote my novel before Social Media’s ascent!)

The solu­tion is very sim­ple: dis­con­nect for a set and reg­u­larly sched­uled time segment.

Some­times, I devote the seg­ment to audio-​book “read­ing” cou­pled with apart­ment clean­ing; other times to some­thing out­side of myself.

I do this about twice a week and I can see the change. Addi­tional ben­e­fit: the times when the scatter-​brained, emo­tional poo-​flinging hits the brim — even when it’s from those with whom I usu­ally agree – and makes me want to shut it down. Call it a sign of detox.

Of course, I’m para­noid enough to believe that the mass splin­ter­ing of our col­lec­tive atten­tion spans is intentional.

It doesn’t have to stay that way, though. But rec­og­niz­ing the prob­lem is the first step.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng has been blog­ging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She pub­lished her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar for his new not-​GoDaddy host!

Or hit Juliette’s!

Your attention span after smoking the Social Media pipe.

by baldilocks

From our beloved Mr. Reynolds:

I think a lot about whether social media are good or bad for society. I’ve written about how they make it easier for people to form mobs, facilitate the weaponization of emotion, and allow bad ideas to spread like disease through early civilizations.

But I also have to wonder: Are social media bad for our brains? (…)

Of course, this isn’t the first time that technology has changed people’s mental processes. Preliterate people had a lot less access to knowledge than people who can read — but preliterate people tended to have amazing memories by today’s standards. (…)

Now, of course, actual bound books are fading, and people read much more on screens. As a result they tend to multitask — read something for a bit, check email, go to see whether you’ve gotten any “likes” on Facebook, go back to reading for a bit, check Twitter. And social media tend to make that worse by subjecting users to a vast stream of bite-size it. (…)

Deep thinking is becoming less common, and worse, this seems to be particularly true among the academic/political/intellectual class that’s most on Twitter.

Glenn says he doesn’t have a solution to this. I do, but it takes personal will.

I, too, found that too much Social Media was harmful to my concentration process. It was taking me much longer to finish reading books than it used to; sometimes I wouldn’t finish them at all since I frequently use e-books and audio-books downloaded from the LA Public Library. Another symptom is pervasive: many open browser tabs. And this is the worst: the degeneration of my ability to concentrate enough on an idea in order to write about it sensibly and to connect one idea with another. (Thank God that I wrote my novel before Social Media’s ascent!)

The solution is very simple: disconnect for a set and regularly scheduled time segment.

Sometimes, I devote the segment to audio-book “reading” coupled with apartment cleaning; other times to something outside of myself.

I do this about twice a week and I can see the change. Additional benefit: the times when the scatter-brained, emotional poo-flinging hits the brim — even when it’s from those with whom I usually agree – and makes me want to shut it down. Call it a sign of detox.

Of course, I’m paranoid enough to believe that the mass splintering of our collective attention spans is intentional.

It doesn’t have to stay that way, though. But recognizing the problem is the first step.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar for his new not-GoDaddy host!

Or hit Juliette’s!