The Internet is Destroying My Brain – Part 1

(Warning: The following series of posts are definitely “communications geek”-ish. I find this stuff incredibly interesting, but am under no illusions that is the case for everyone — although if you don’t find it interesting, I would check your pulse ;))

OK, so the title might be a bit like something you’d hear from a shock jock, but for a number of years I have noticed some things about myself:

1. I have a hard time focusing on a single subject for an extended period of time. I am much more comfortable jumping in and out of topics that seem mildly related than I am in conversations that require attentiveness. While I have often attributed this (half-jokingly) to an undiagnosed case of ADHD, when I think about it rationally, I know there are deeper, real factors at play (as opposed to those I am imagining). I’ve also noticed this does not seem to be unique to myself. I see this in most people I interact with. Even people (including myself) who are very relational and want to connect with others still seem unwittingly drawn to a flickering screen the size of a credit card that used to remain largely in our pockets (or on the walls of in our house). Others seem compelled to answer the ring of a phone in the other room despite having a full house of friends and family directly in front of them. Why is this? What makes me so easily distractible?

2. While I am learning to fight the tendency, I have noticed my initial tendency in most conversations is to point out flaws in the opinions/arguments of other people and to try — quickly and succinctly — to point out my (obvious-to-anyone) far superior knowledge on the subject. When I watch the way I react to even benign conversations; I seem to lean toward “right-ness” first and foremost rather than compassion, empathy and listening to the thoughts, concerns and opinions of others. When I let my initial reaction dictate my response, the consequences are readily apparent to anyone who has ever said something without thinking it through (foot-in-mouth disease). My default seems to be rightness over more relational interpersonal communications when my desire is for the opposite. Surely I am not alone in noticing how many online conversations (Facebook being a prime example) quickly turn into arguments and misunderstandings with “friends” saying things to one another they would never say to each other’s face. Why do I feel the need to react so quickly? Why is being “right” so important? Why does this happen more frequently when I use social media than in other forms of communication?

3. I have a great memory, but it is so very short! Lately it seems I can be speaking with someone about something very important and yet walk away from the conversation and immediately forget what we have been speaking about. I’ve come up with ways to cope with this in my work environment — reminders, notes and writing “next steps” in my day timer while speaking to people — but these are just bandages on a large wound. Something is keeping me from taking small pieces of information and transferring them into the vast garden that is my brain. I’ve also noticed I have plenty of knowledge — lots of great tidbits of information or teaching I have picked up over the years — and yet have a problem making connections between the many things floating in my head. (As an aside, I noticed this for the first time about 5 years ago when I was starting to form some thoughts about how to handle the problem of a violent God in the Old Testament and yet I couldn’t clearly articulate these thoughts to anyone because they were disjointed and hard to follow in a rational, linear way that could be shared with others. It was then I decided certain things need to be written down in order to make the transfer from disjointed, chaotic tidbits to a coherent “argument” that could be shared with others for them to consider — it is also the reason I started writing things down on this Blog.) What was stopping me from making connections? Why couldn’t I remember things that had just happened when I could easily recall the music playing a week ago in a restaurant and recite pretty much the entire script from Braveheart, which I last watched 15 years ago?

Now these may seem like confessions — or the first evidence that I am, in fact, older than I was 10 years ago and may not be as young as I like to think — but I’ve come to understand that not only are they completely related, they are symptoms of something that is both very real and will require deliberate effort on my part to decelerate my slide; let alone reverse the descent.

So, what is my problem? Well, it all starts with Marshall McLuhan …

(how’s that for a tease // come back tomorrow for more 😉

Part 2 can be found here

Part 3 can be found here

Part 4 can be found here

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4 thoughts on “The Internet is Destroying My Brain – Part 1

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