I was going to title this “The Consequences of Prefrontal Cortex Exhaustion and the Decline of Interpersonal Relationships,” but I figured that was a tad too brainy. Plus, all the PhD types it might bring out of the woodwork would probably expire with horror to encounter a website like ours.
(Or maybe not? How cool would that be if some of those intellectuals schooled us in the science of biology, sex, and swagger?!)
Anyway…Yes, fellow social media whores, I’m talking about technology addiction and how it can adversely affect not only your relationships, but your actual gray matter.
OMG, I KNOW!!!!
I. Feel. Your PAIN. I really do because, holy crap, I love my phone, iPad, email, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter…that reminds me I still haven’t responded to…
(Stop. Just stop it.)
Okay, I’m not here to lecture because I’m probably a worse offender than most. I pride myself on my quick response times because God forbid someone think I don’t care about them. Or I miss something important.
I like to tell myself I am this way because of the solitary nature of being a writer. Because:
a.) I spend so much of my day alone (well, not alone–alone if you count all the nut-jobs in my noggin that certainly have no problem talking back to me).
b.) I appreciate the connections with others. Connections that are quick, easy, and at my convenience.
Plus, I have to admit, I don’t love the phone. I actually kind of dislike it. A lot. At least I do initially because phone calls always come when I’m busy. Of course, once I’m into the conversation, I enjoy it, but that damn ring… just go away, text me, email me, or find me on FB.
How arrogant is that?! How anti-social does that make me? Geez. Sick.
Not to mention my neck is starting to get a permanent crick from staring down at a screen. I’m often distracted and don’t listen when the people RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME are talking to me. And because I’m highly distractable to begin with, this technology-glued-to-hand shit takes it to the next level.
My husband has started talking about technology being “the other man.” And if I’m honest with myself—this is the hardest part—he’s got a point. Bad, bad, bad, gang.
I’m starting to piss myself off. This is stupid.
So, I’ve started to do something about it. >>>> UNPLUG
breathe……….i am calm……mind like water…
So anyway, I’m here to tell you…you can do it, too. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m still learning. But so far, I’ve found that one of the best antidotes to my gadget addiction is…
AKA: Leave your phone on the kitchen counter & get thine ass outside.
Current research is proving that our addiction to technology is costing us general, short-term cognitive decline by placing constant demands on our prefrontal cortex—the frontal lobe of our brain that handles advanced, concentrated thinking. For example, the region we use when writing semi-coherent blog posts, driving on a busy road with boisterous children in the background, preparing financial reports, trying to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time…you get the idea.
Life is already filled with multi-tasking activities that tax the frontal lobe. So what do you think happens to our already drained prefrontal cortex when we add all the alarms, notifications, and constant checking of texts, emails, and Facebook on our mobile devices?
Just like muscles tire with overuse, so does the brain. When we never let the frontal lobe rest, we perform worse on creativity measures, complete tasks more slowly, and are more likely to make errors.
My wilderness man (DH) showed me an absolutely fascinating article (Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan) that not only discusses this very thing, but goes on to explain how immersion in nature is perhaps the best way to recharge our frontal lobe. What’s more, science is starting to back it up so strongly there’s even a named hypothesis for it: Attention Restoration Theory (ART).
The theory goes like this: there are two types of thinking, top-down and bottom-up. Top-down thinking is the frontal lobe stuff. Bottom-up thinking, or “soft fascination,” is what happens when distractions dissolve and you just go with the flow.
That’s what happens in nature. Think of what a walk in the woods is like: oh, look at that moss on the birch tree. It feels humid in here under this lovely green canopy. Did you hear that? What kind of bird was it? Ooo, a little nest…
This stream of consciousness thinking is hard to produce anywhere besides the outdoors or in meditation, and it doesn’t require any heavy lifting by your brain. Therefore, as ART posits, it allows your “beat-up frontal lobe [to] relax and recharge, refilling your reservoir of focus—thus restoring your cognition to full power.”
Pretty neat, huh? Well, it’s spring, winter hibernators…head outside! Leave your phone at home – or at least in the car (or at the VERY least TURNED OFF in your pocket)—and go chase a rainbow!
What are some tips you have for unplugging and reconnecting to the ones around you?