The 'Newsfeed' Mentality

Back before the days of the social media era; what caused us to take on seemingly trivial activities such as climbing trees, reading books, constructing things, playing musical instruments, kicking a ball against a wall etc. ?I would like to argue, that in many cases - it was pure boredom.  There was nothing else to do.

And so, whenever we had some time on our hands, curiosity would take charge and we would wander outside or to the bookshelf or to the piano and we would keep ourselves busy.  These activities, for the most part, were beneficial for us in many respects - whether that be physically, mentally or however.  They sculpted a more rounded person, someone who had differentiated hobbies, contrasting ideas, wider life-experiences.

All of a sudden, social media arrived - and announced itself as a fantastic time-filler.  I am as culpable as anyone when I say that in the modern era, whenever we have idle time (or even when it's not) we end up checking our facebook, twitter, pinterest or whatever other network we like to use.  It doesn't seem to matter that we checked it 5 minutes ago, because as we all know - that is old news now and perhaps the next tweet is a total game-changer!  We have even managed to (naively) convince ourselves that in those breaks between "official" things is the perfect time to check up on social networks - it doesn't even interfere with our main priorities!

The truth is, this incessant "newsfeed" mentality that we seem to have fallen into is stealing time and curbing our progress.  Now I'm not denying the power of social media, it has revolutionized our world - of that there can be no doubt.  However, I feel that it is an addiction that is curtailing innovation, undermining the value of focus and putting strain on personal relationships.  In addition - the socially acceptable response time for messages, interaction or support has become less than instantaneous!  If you haven't replied to a message straight away - something is definitely wrong.   I say this as a huge social media addict myself.

Imagine for a second (as I did), that you used all the time you spent checking your social media (even the short 5 minute spells) to do something constructive.  { To read; to play the piano; to run; to write; to meditate; to interact with other people. }

Where would you be right now?  It seems to me that if I had done so, I would have accomplished so much more than I have already.  I might have been a competent pianist, a fitter sportsman, an aspiring novelist.  It's not a case of ability that's holding me back, but simply the amount of hours I put into the things that are important.  If I simply put my phone down and left it unattended - I would have so much time on my hands!  It seems like an absolute no-brainer?

But the addiction.

It is so much easier said than done, especially with social media infecting every single part of our day.  It's the first thing we do when we wake up, and the last thing we look at before we go to bed.  It infiltrates meal times, lectures, meetings, parties - you name it!  No matter how hard I try (and I fear for many others as well), that craving for information does not cease.  I strongly believe that multi-tasking is a myth, and yet I can't seem to shake this addiction.

I use the word 'addiction' very carefully here.  Although it may not have a physical effect, it has distinct mental and psychological effects.  Truly I believe that it is the single biggest challenge for the youth of my generation.  How do we harness the incredible power of social media, without falling prey to the vices; the very features that create this power.  It is something that I continue to grapple with...

The irony, I realise, is that I will publicise this blog post through social media.  Without people actually checking their twitter or facebook, they will probably never see this post!  (unless they are following the blog itself)  The catch 22 is this exactly, and I'm not going to pretend that I have the answer - because I don't.  But it is definitely something to think about.

Oh and turn off that annoying red light.

ProductivityBarry Morisse