Another way of explaining the power of our attention is that energy flows where attention goes. If you are 35+ you will remember how ground breaking the concept of the Law of Attraction was. We learned that whatever we paid attention to, whether by thinking, talking (stories), worrying or fearing, would increase and multiply until it absolutely affected our lives. We realised then just how much we do create our reality by where we place our energy and attention. For now, I’m going to focus on the lure of becoming lost in the digital world and what you can do to keep your intention powering your attention.
Many of you are now familiar with the term VUCA which is the volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous acronym used to describe the ever increasing rate of advancement in our world. The 4IR complexity of technology has brought with it the age of behavioural addiction—an age in which at least “half the American population is addicted to at least one behaviour. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. Half of us would rather suffer a broken bone than a broken phone, and Millennial kids spend so much time in front of screens that they struggle to interact with real, live humans.” (as excerpted from the Amazon review on Adam Alter’s latest book, Irresistible.)
According to those researching the impact of technology on humanity, the Nr 1 social dysfunction nowadays is that of lack of connection and loneliness brought on by our increasing dependence and escapism into the very thing creating the dysfunction. The millennials in particular have had to struggle with higher self-esteem issues due to a constant diet of VR disconnect, comparison and lack of peer to peer communication.
Millennial or not, we all have experienced getting lost in the digital world, So what to do about this? Educate yourself for starters then create strong habits to stay present with your Intentions.
An important myth out there is that technology use causes dopamine release similar to other normal, fun activities: about 50 to 100 percent above normal levels. While dopamine isn’t the sole cause of addiction, its motivational properties are thought to play a role in addiction. The reward centre in your brain releases dopamine in response to pleasurable experiences. This part of your brain is also closely linked to memory and motivation.
Dopamine serves many complex functions in the brain, but it is not a “reward” chemical. What is important to know, is that dopamine is about learning that rewards feel good, so we can do them again. An excellent article written by Dr David Ley in Psychology Today, covers dopamine’s main function in regards to habit formation –
“Dopamine’s role here is NOT that it makes you feel good. It doesn’t—the pleasure and hedonic or euphoria feeling comes from opioids in the brain, neurochemicals which increase pleasure and deaden pain. Dopamine’s role in pleasure and reward is that it helps your brain to recognize “incentive salience.” This means that it’s like a little red flag to your brain, saying “hey, pay attention, this is about to feel good, and you want to remember this, so you can do it again.”
People’s problems are never simple. And when a person does a thing over and over, even when the behaviour is causing problems, there are a great many complex reasons behind that behaviour. When we offer the reductively simple answer of “because dopamine,” it distracts us from the person. It is the person who learns, and dopamine is merely a factor, one factor among many, in the learning.”
The companies that design behaviour driven products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist. But, by reverse engineering behavioural addiction, Alter (Irresistible ) explains how we can harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play—and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, and the health and happiness of our children.
So how can you help yourself? Stay connected with people and causes that really matter. Learn which technology is shaping your behaviour and how. Choose to keep the habit or change it.. Then teach your children.
As always, it starts with You!