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Why Being Continually Online is Like Having a Bad Acid Trip

By Phungushead, Oct 9, 2015 | | |
  1. Phungushead
    Hippie guru Timothy Leary famously said, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.”

    He may have been referring to psychedelics, but his quote is more relevant than ever when it comes to our culture’s connectivity with the cyber dimensions. No one is dropping out, however, and being constantly online is overloading our minds with dangerous results.

    Hyper-connectivity—that state of being continually plugged-in to our devices—is a growing problem. There are solutions, as always, but first the bad news.

    The damage caused by hyper-connectivity

    We may be accustomed to living online, but how it stresses our brains is highlighted in an article by ATTN:, Here’s Why It’s so Important to Unplug.

    Here are some of the weighty takeaways:

    • Fifty-four thousand words—in the form of digital content—is dumped on the average social media user per day.
    • We receive about 200 newspapers-worth of information every day.
    • An average person—via texts, posts, and other media—produces about six newspapers-worth of information a day.
    • There are 295 exabytes of data floating around the world—or basically 29,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information. That is three hundred and fifteen times the number of grains of sand on Earth.
    That’s just scratching the info-dump surface. The point is that hyper-connectivity is straining our minds that were never built to handle that amount of data on a daily basis.

    qSample has researched the effects of hyperconnectivity on individuals, finding that social media users earn less income and that social media/internet is creating a split-personality culture that is harming Millennials, in particular.

    Furthermore, the ATTN: article quotes the sober analysis of Max Blumberg, research psychologist from Goldsmiths University of London. He explains:
    Our brains were never designed to be always on and permanently connected with the amount of stimuli that we get today. Our brains haven’t evolved to handle that level of high activity yet, and that’s a problem.
    Blumberg explains that high stimuli like surfing the web are attractive because they create dopamine in the brain. He further states:
    It’s really similar to having ADHD. People with ADHD, their big problem is that their cortex—the outer part of your brain that does the executive function like making decisions—doesn’t function in the way that it is supposed to. Unlike animals, who are distracted by every stimulus they encounter, human beings have the cortex, which is supposed to help them weigh up whether what they are currently doing is more important than whatever the new stimulus is—whether it’s a Facebook notification, phone call, or email.
    This can’t be good, and other researchers are finding that hyper-connectivity may be causing depression, insomnia, narcissism, and lack of empathy among various demographics of society.

    On a more “real” level, Mashable recently reported that more people have died from selfies than shark attacks this year.

    (Scarier than Dr. Evil’s desire in Austin Powers for sharks with laser beams on their foreheads, what will happen if sharks acquire smartphones on their foreheads…)

    Being online is even ruining eating experiences! At least according to Food Trend TV’s Dana McCauley, who stated:
    Technology has reached a point where almost every human function has been turned into a business, absolving us of the need to develop the virtues we need to get along. Activities that were once considered part of the human experience have been outsourced to the Apple store, and it’s a sad indictment of the state of our society.
    Basically, we are staring at screens during our wait at eateries, skip the experience of connecting with those who serve our food, and abort the ritual of eating with other by quick deliveries at home. At least McCauley admits we don’t have to deal with the manifestations of the Soup Nazi, although she doesn’t see it as a positive because at least it’s a “real” experience.

    All of this for that dopamine? Leary was promoting LSD in his day, but the “high” of hyper-connectivity is a thousand times stronger, it would appear. Except it’s akin to the infamous brown acid that hippies were supposed to stay away from at Woodstock. It’s often a bad trip instead a journey of enlightening information.

    I mean, it’s not secret by now that being plugged into a mobile device or computer can create addiction, starting with the “endless scroll, that keeps us going, is actually affecting our brain and creating addicting patterns not too dissimilar to drugs.”

    (Many would say there is nothing wrong with making products that are like drugs; after all, some have said that good marketing is simply making your brand addictive, giving it that aura that the consumer can’t live without it. And tech companies know marketing better than most.)

    In the end and beyond companies wanting to make dough, Blumberg states that hyper-connectivity is destroying critical thinking. Also, youth who learn to temper being online (and television) will likely be more productive members of society and leaders of the future.

    There solution to hyper-connectivity

    Going back to Leary’s quote, the solution has to do with dropping out after too much tuning in.

    In a New York Times article, Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, proposed some ideas to get us dropped out:

    • Segment your day in online and offline activities (and stick to them).
    • Also segment your online activities (as in a designated time to answer emails and another for posting on Facebook).
    • Find daily hobbies or activities that are not based or at least loosely connected to the Internet.
    • Take short breaks, walks or even naps when immersed in a prolonged digital period.
    • When taking a vacation, make sure it doesn’t involve the internet at your disposal.
    Levitin states that these solutions will take practice. It’s not easy to get offline when various screens of information are always hovering over us. But our brains will thanks us with renewed cognitive energy.

    If not, just approach it like a bona fide addiction. As mentioned, brands like it when you lose your willpower—as they are only following their nature of marketing—but your nature has never been to be inundated with information to the point you miss out of nature all around you.

    South Korea has the highest rate of internet addiction in the world. The country’s solution is to set up boot camps to offer “digital detox.” The premise is that at the root of internet addiction is the problem of making too many friends and relationships online, and being dragged down by the gravity of continual “checking in and checking out.” Creating “real” associations inevitable urges people to venture out into the world and away from their devices.

    I like this quote by Leary that also exemplifies our hyper-connected society:
    We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go.
    It seems instead of nowhere we should take our minds outside and make a flesh and blood friend. Just be wary for those sharks with smartphones.

    07 October 2015

    Miguel Conner
    Business 2 Community
    Image: Huffington Post


  1. Alien Sex Fiend
    Whats this bit about? This article is full of nonsense
  2. Herbs&Hopes
    In my experience, the increased connection via social media has lead to an increase in face-to-face/in-person encounters. As we are more connected to others; when you say - plan a roadtrip, its far easier to line up multiple meetings as we have instant mesaging and since many are on facebook or other social media/have cell-phones, this digital telepathy allows near instananeous updates with the world at large.....
  3. WizardMindBomb
    Thanks for sharing this one.

    Personally, I do not use Facebook. I don't even own a phone. And sometimes, because of that, I get really, REALLY damn lonely, because it seems these days, that's the only way we can connect with each other now. Even if the majority of your socializing DOES occur face-to-face in first person, you need a phone or Facebook just to organize such a meeting! I do still use email, but its only my super-close friends that truly care about me enough to actually use the old-school notion of email who reciprocate in that fashion.

    To some extent this has lead me to give up on putting myself out there to introduce myself and meet with people when I'm out and about. Because I know, that one brief encounter is all it would ever be. It's pointless trying to ask someone for their number when you don't even own a phone yourself. Telling them you'd call them from a payphone or something just comes off as creepy...
  4. Alien Sex Fiend
    I do have to agree.
    If not for internet the only people I would be talking to would be homeless drug addicts, welfare workers and doctors.
    People swim in circles and internet brings the difference
  5. sassieone
    Even though I didn't ride the short bus to school, I admit I'm technically challenged. My cell phone is ancient and looks it, but I understand most of the buttons now. It's a keeper.

    I don't "do" Face Book, or Twitter, or Snap Chat (that my daughter swears by!). I text and talk and used Siri (once) to buy a movie ticket. Done.

    My fellow World War II Baby Boomers, keep companies like 'Geek Squad' and 'Techie Boss' at the top of the food chain. If I want to know how to do anything on my phone, or tablet, or computer, I call my kids.

    If THEY want a rough draft of their essay typed up and proof read....they call Mom (that would be Me.) My generation of post WWII baby boomers are a dying breed....literally. However, we have skills in the grammar, spelling, and proper line spacing department....that they have no clue about.

    For now, it's a fair trade off. Do I feel like I'm "all dressed up with no place to go," while online? Sometimes. Usually, I'm in my pajama's.
  6. RoboCodeine7610
    It's not about "hyperconnectivity". It's not about the internet. It's about a tool, that like all tools, serves to extend the reach and effectiveness of human behavior. That behavior that's being amplified by this tool we call the internet, can be dumb behavior, neutral behavior or even smart behavior.

    Example: If you use the internet to acquire books, magazines and articles that contain actual information then it will serve to extend the reach of your curiosity, and therefore, your knowledge about the world. People don't realize that instant access to all human knowledge has been science-fiction for thousands of years. It's here; now. It's only been here for 20 years (and even that's an exaggeration). The ability to carry the internet around with you has only been here for less than 10 years. How can anyone use this technology as a sort of "pocket tv" meant for nothing more but fleeting entertainment every second that they're alone with their thoughts?

    Once again, technology only serves to increase the reach of human behavior; and 90% of human behavior is pure irrationality and stupidity.

    And here we have the most important point: We create as well as read more words every day than our predecessors read in a month. And yet, we learn nothing, because all those words actually mean nothing.

    There's more information contained in a single page of an actual newspaper than the "six newspapers-worth of information a day" that we supposedly create. Reading 20000 empty words a day won't benefit anybody, certainly not intellectually.

    So, as much as our parents may have read less than we do today, the learned much, much more; and most people ought to be ashamed of how inaccurate and/or empty the overwhelming majority of that information actually is. Take a look at this:

    And had they achieved their goal, as we have, do you think this is what they had in mind?

  7. Alien Sex Fiend
    People talked about color TV the same way and color TV retarded many and brainwashed even more
  8. sassieone
    They said the same thing about Rock and Roll and Drugs....isn't that why most of us are here?

    Tipper and Al Gore were smashing records and burning CD's that were "teaching our kids of the occult practices that may deprive them of a normal childhood." Yeah, okay.

    I used to rock my kids to sleep with Metallica playing "softly" in the background. They turned out okay.

    Do I think we are too connected as a society via computers vs. being connected via actual personal contact? Hell yes.

    Can I do anything about it? Yes. I actually call and go see my friends instead of just texting them. I also force my daughter to go and visit her BFF instead of just texting her. She lives two houses away!! I'm a freak that way I guess.

    Just doing my small part so my friends remember what I look like.
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