I'm sick. I really am. Every day I read something horrible in the news, and incomprehensible, grotesque things in comments on social media. And yet, I can't put down my phone and stop compulsively checking Facebook and Twitter literally every spare moment. It's a veritable abusive relationship. Too often, I can't work or think clearly, trying to process everything I read.
Adik - huwag tularan. I crave the distraction so much, I don't even seem to care that it's killing me with unnecessary stress. But the first step in treating a sickness is being aware it exists in the first place, and on some level, my daily, constant burying of my face in my phone has made me blind to it.
Enter, once again, my source for all life-changing knowledge, The Tim Ferriss Show. In this interview with Scott Adams, author and creator of Dilbert, while discussing dealing with anxiety, Adams offers a timely diagnosis of this very disease that I find myself suffering from (emphasis mine):
"...I have a theory that... there's something... called a 'digital disease.' Meaning that, if you take the average person and put him in the average simple environment of the past, they were not overwhelmed by its complexity. But I believe that today, the average person is overwhelmed by the complexity of life 'cause it got more complicated. And that I barely know an adult who isn't on some kind of drug, either prescribed or otherwise to deal with anxiety. And I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case when I was a kid. Maybe we have more options now I guess. I think there's like a real legitimate mental illness plague.
.... I'm very pro-future and technology, so I'm not saying we should back up. But keep in mind, the names of these biggest companies in your world, like Google, Apple, their business model is distraction.... All of that depends on them taking you off your task and making you look at an advertisement or buy their new song or buy their new thing.... So, they're literally in the business of making you distracted, and doing the job that the smartest people in the world using the best science and A/B testing can provide. While in the normal world... it was a fair fight, right? Like, 'hey, I'm gonna ignore your billboard on the highway because I can, it wasn't that hard, haha!' Those guys with the billboards, they weren't using a ton of science, but now it's me against all the scientists in Google."
Speaking only for myself, this couldn't be more true. I consider myself reasonably well-educated and a decent critical thinker, but my capacity to process breaks down under this constant, never-ending, and self-inflicted assault of information, advertising, and bile. And because, being a freelancer means everything I do has to originate from me and my own initiative and creativity, this distraction-induced stress is destroying my ability to move forward. Enough is enough.
Being that so much of what I do depends (or seems to depend) on sharing my work online, I'm a little concerned about the effect drastically reducing my use of social media could have on my business. But between that and not getting anything done at all because I'm so stressed and distracted? The choice couldn't be clearer.
When distraction becomes destructive, I don't think the cost of spending less time online outweighs the benefits.
Listen to the fascinating full episode of the Tim Ferriss Show with Scott Adams here.
If you need an effective app for blocking digital distractions - when you remember to use it! - I encourage you to check out Freedom. (Affiliate link)