Candy Crush and Porn: The Battle for Your Mind

There is a battle raging around us that most are blissfully unaware of. I am not referring to a battle between right and wrong, Democrats and Republicans or even Good and Evil. The battle being waged isn’t necessarily a new one, but is more pervasive than ever before while being subtler.

The battle that I am referring to is the battle for your attention and your mind. Technology has made possible the sharing of information in ways never before imagined. This avalanche of information has created a new mentality and a new addiction, which those who are “plugged” in must deal with continually.

Thought Influencers

A problem with the sheer volume of information is determining its validity and the intent of those publishing it. For example, Matt Drudge who runs the news website The Drudge Report is considered to be the second most influential man in America behind the president according to a recent article in The Hill.

The article points out that more than any other person in media, “Drudge influences what you watch on television, hear on the radio and what you read about politics on the Internet.” Interestingly, Drudge doesn’t create the content that shapes the thoughts of millions of Americans — according to quantcast.com the website has over 3 million visitors each day — instead, he collects information he finds interesting then posts the links on his site.

Drudge’s influence underscores the new ability to influence thought through technology and the manipulation of information. A great example of media manipulation comes from the marketer Ryan Holiday and his use of social media to promote a new book. Holiday tells the story of purchasing several billboards in the Los Angeles area to advertise his book. After the ads had been up for a few days, he purposefully defaced one and took photos of the “destruction”, then emailed the photos to select blogs lamenting the “hate”.

The bloggers took the bait and wrote stories about the “incident”. Then, thanks to the viral nature of the Internet, the stories found their way to numerous other blogs and mainstream media outlets. Poof! Instant promotion with minimal expense and hundreds of readers influenced by influential bloggers favoring speed over verification of facts.

Information Overload

The 24/7 news cycle and constant bombardment of information has conditioned us to accept what we see as the truth. If it is on the Internet it has to be true! This avalanche of information has forced marketers to continually push boundaries to gain our attention — like using a well known game and a controversial topic in the title of an article — see above.

The technology that is supposed to bring us closer together and make our lives easier has almost had the opposite effect; in fact, many would argue that it has lowered our collective IQ’s. As an avid fan of texting, I rarely communicate in full sentences anymore. My conversations are condensed to fewer than 70 characters or Emoji’s that tell the story.

Consider this, how often do you Google information? I am a Google junkie, which reduces the amount of effort I put into remembering information because I can access so much so quickly. I am as smart as the first ten results of a Google search. Which makes me only as smart as the information I am accessing. The Internet is about speed and convenience more than anything else. This means consumers to need to be aware of the veracity of the information they are consuming.

As attention spans grow shorter — statisticbrain.com claims the average attention span to be 8.25 seconds, which is less than that of a goldfish — it becomes increasingly difficult to capture and retain our focus. Smart phones have re-wired our brains to crave constant stimulation, whether it is checking email, playing candy crush or watching videos, we are distracted constantly and increasingly accepting what we see as fact.

The influence of the mainstream media, social media and the Internet is very real, so is the battle to influence you. As everyone knows, 68% of all statistics are made up on the spot, so the challenge for today is to look beyond the information 100% of the time and think beyond what is in front of you. So put down the electronics and take time to quietly meditate, it may be the most productive thing you do today.

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