“We are programmed to be interrupted. We get an adrenalin jolt when orienting to new stimuli: Our body actually rewards us for paying attention to the new. So in this very fast-paced world, it’s easy and tempting to always react to the new thing. But when we live in a reactive way, we minimize our capacity to pursue goals.”
It’s part of why Twitter’s so addictive, there’s a contstant newness, a buzz of another tweet, reply, DM, link or interesting person with whom your friend is chatting. I got into PR because I loved the news, and got a buzz off it’s literal ‘newness’; this natural trait in many media folk is exacerbated and fed tremendously by Twitter and other technology.
I know it gives me for one a terrible attention span, and is consciously something I try to manage. It’s one of the reasons I like blogging, and blogging for other sites like Londonist because it forces me to focus on a piece of writing. Other steps like turning off all notification alerts from Tweetdeck, work and personal email and closing tempting windows like Facebook help me claw back my brain!
I like this line from one of the Wired commentors too:
“I have come to not worry about those who can’t concentrate. They will be ruled by those who can.”
I think this rings true to many people I look up to professionally, who are often those who for all they can be as flittish as the next person at times, are generally able to delve into a task and immerse themselves properly in thought – playing into Maggie’s point about our diminished capacity to pursue goals when we live in a reactive way. Amazing ideas come from reactive thought, such as brainstorming, but the real work, the understanding and strategy comes from distilling that idea, process and focus.
I’ve no idea whether, as discussed in the Wired piece, we’re evolving our brains, but I know mine reacts to being set a few rules!