We Have a Problem

Photo by Pavan Trikutam

There’s a problem. I’m sure you’ve noticed it. You’ve felt it when your friend pulls their phone out and sets it on the table in front of them at dinner or coffee. When your significant other walks out of the room and the first thing you do is pick up your phone, something is wrong.

I know because I do it, and I feel the guilt and confusion at the seemingly automatic behavior.

You might have felt it as one video led to another and another on Youtube and before your know it, you’re 10 videos deep nowhere near where you started.

When your child/niece/nephew is deftly swiping through some sort of device that wasn’t even possible a couple of years ago, you remember your Pentium 1…and books.

There is a War for Our Mind and Attention

Our attention is being used, consumed, marketed and sold. After all, to loosely quote Sean McCabe, “If you’re not paying for a product or service, you are the product,” (rather your attention, usage tendencies and/or data).

Notifications beep, ding and pop-up, constantly asking for attention. The world moves faster and faster, building momentum, each new update and advancement building on the last.

We’re advancing so fast technologically that it’s almost miraculous. Prior generations couldn’t imagine the access and technology we have now or the ever-increasing speed of connection.

In the wake of this unprecedented advancement, I’m concerned there are important parts of who we are individually and as a species drowning in the churning prop wash. Quiet, peace and introspection are in ever-decreasing supply. Without those things, I fear original thought and heart will eventually be lost forever.

Philosophy is now replaced with a parabolic growth of “content”. Self-help listicles and growth hacks have usurped wisdom and stunted our growth potential.

We are catapulting toward an inevitable intellectual and cultural crash that just might leave a blank swath akin to a vacant stare in our pages of the world’s history. Bland, copycat and superficial creative works could be our only legacy.

If you happen to resonate with this message, you and I can become part of the solution. I want to invite you to do a couple of simple things with me.

First, disable the notifications on your phone. Let’s reclaim some of our time and attention. Put your phone back in its place where it should be, as a tool to be used as you will, rather than a crying toddler throwing a fit for your attention.

Second, leave said phone behind once a day. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, the lack of “access” will remove at least one barrier to our minds and invite the world to rush in.

Give it a try with me and leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

If you’re interested in going against the grain, you might like to know that you have a right to a different path. Here’s some additional inspiration to leave the well-worn path.