A few months ago I apparently hurt someone’s feelings. The problem is, I only realised this yesterday when by chance I found a message they’d sent to me on Instagram. As someone who is supposed to know things about social media sites, I’m afraid to admit I didn’t realise you could message someone on Instagram. The person in question could have reached me on the day itself by sending a Facebook message, Linkedin message, Whatsapp, text, or email.
At some point during the film Terminator 2, we come across a dream sequence in which Sarah Connor witnesses the end of the world as we know it. Approaching a playground full of children, Sarah tries and fails to warn the children and their parents of the impending nuclear explosion, banging frantically on the fencing before being fried to a crisp along with everyone else. To see the horror unfold, you can view the below video:
Let’s assume that Terminator 2 was real and Sarah and co managed to take care of the whole Terminator related issues back in the early 90’s. Sure, there was bloodshed and enough horror to last a few lifetimes but after that things slowly started to get back to normal. Children played and adults spent quality time with their friends and family.
Fast forward to 2016, Sarah Connor lies in bed after a tough day in the office that involved four status updates and a group brainstorming session designed to get employees more active on social media. On the journey back home she read 34 tweets, liked 9 Instagram posts and watched a Facebook video of a real life street fight in Brisbane, Australia. Before turning out the bedside light Sarah sends a couple of quick emails including one with over 35 employees cc’d.
As we enter Sarah’s nightmare, a new threat is revealed. The scene is the same as it was years before, she slowly approaches the playground and clings on to the fence separating her from the playing children. We see that the children and parents are no longer occupied with see-saws or monkey bars.
They’re sitting on the ground amongst the slides and sand glued to iPhones and Macbooks with mouths hung open so gormlessly you could be fooled for thinking that it was a mass audition for The Walking Dead.
Drool slowly spills from open mouths as fingers gently scroll, scroll…..and scroll.
The long standing argument over whether social media/internet usage is dumbing us down isn’t going to be solved in this mediocre post that’s lacking in footnotes and references. However, I bet a high percentage of people reading would admit to thinking (at some point) that pointless internet browsing IS LITERALLY FRYING OUR BRAINS.
So like a true cop out, I’m stepping back from the debate and making a book recommendation. It’s by Professor Cal Newport, and it’s called Deep Work.
I read it in a few days blissfully recalling the time (2004??) when my brain and I had a great relationship based on mutual respect. The most focused I’ve been since then was probably over Christmas as I reversed out of my parents house, nephew nervously in the front seat wondering why this manoeuvre was taking triple the time it takes his mother to complete.
Cal has been on the podcast a few times and hopefully there will be more to come. The trouble is, he’s so sold on avoiding distraction it’s not always easy to reach him by email (you will struggle to find and message him via Instagram).
If you’ve noticed the following things in your life, then I recommend you buy a copy:
- The last time you concentrated on one particular task for more than 7 minutes was in 1998.
- You recently stepped onto a bus thinking everyone on it was in a coma with smartphones mysteriously superglued to their faces.
- You had to pause last night’s recorded episode of Spin so you could send a very non urgent Whatsapp.
In 2016, I’d like to explore this deep working business and also I want 2 b less stupid and cleverer.