Is Social Media Addling Your Brain?
So here goes with the second installment of my 'Ramblings, Rants and Sleepless Nights' posts. I wrote this one sometime during the night, with the soothing tones of Classic FM on and of course, true to the title, have typed it up and posted it at Midnight. Catch up on the first one here. I read an article in The Sunday Times a few weeks ago by India Knight about social media and being permanently attached to our mobile phones. I’ve read a few articles recently about this sort of thing and it’s got me wondering- is my mobile phone addling my brain? Is it a coincidence that I make a cup of tea, only to get all the way upstairs and then realise that it’s stone cold and I never boiled the kettle? Or that I made poached eggs the other day and came back to find I’d forgotten to even turn the hob on? Or that I woke up at 7.30am the other day (knowing I started work at 8) believing that I had another hour until I needed to be ready, only to be told by my sister that I was in fact going to be very late! (I genuinely believed I had loads of time, that I was early in fact!) Or that I now always forget what I’m going to say, right in the middle of a sentence… poof! It’s gone! Never mind the number of times that I’ve gone upstairs to get something and completely forgotten what I went for. I’ve always been bad for doing that, but recently it happens, a lot! I am a glad that for the most part I work for myself now (aside from my part-time receptionist job) because quite frankly I’m not sure I would be able to hold my own in a meeting with my old director these days. The same director that can remember EVERYTHING from the entire 10 years that she’s worked at the company, “Do you remember that email that came from X a few years ago, asking if we did Y?” In short, no. “No, I do not remember a specific email about something fairly vague, which wasn’t even relevant at the time and has never been discussed since.” This woman has an incredible memory, probably in part how she’s got to where she is, at a relatively young age. I on the other hand, have absolutely no ability to retain information these days- if I remember something that I need to do, I have to write it down, that very second, otherwise 30 seconds later it’s gone and I will most probably not remember what it is for another week. Now, I’m either going senile (I’m 27, so I sincerely hope not!) or something else is going on here. It has gotten a whole lot worse in the last year too. And what I have started doing in the last year? TWITTER! You could blame it on starting my own business, that my mind is so preoccupied with so many things that it’s getting itself in a bit of pickle and can’t work out what sort of information to retain and what not to (in this case, it chooses to retain nothing!). However, I was permanently emailing on my phone for my previous job. I worked for a footwear supplier and it was my job to manage the product on my account, from conception (design) to store and all the many areas of hassle in between. I was emailing factories in China on Boxing Day regarding problems with getting product made on time, I was emailing at 2am when I couldn’t sleep. Now that did me no good at all (loss of sleep, namely), BUT, it did not have the same effect on my brain as is happening now I am on Twitter! All of that incessant talking… of course the constant checking of my phone for website orders has got to be a big contributer. A little obsession that I have developed in the last 6 months. My mood is directly linked to what comes through on those emails!
I’ve tried to find research on this, but there’s a lot for and against, as is always the case. There doesn’t really seem to be much evidence either way, but I do firmly believe that social media, emails and my mobile phone is having an adverse effect on my brain capacity. That there is simply too much going on and not enough down time in order to allow your brain time to breathe, to absorb information, to process it and store it away for future use. Instead, I move so quickly from one thing to another, that the previous thing is gone as quickly as it came. SO, I am going to make a conscious effort to start turning my phone off in the evenings in order to see if my brain starts to regain some of it’s former glory. 9pm cut off time, after which you will not receive an email response from me, you will not get a Twitter reply and I will not be reading blog posts and Googling SEO tactics. You may say, “Why don’t I just come off Twitter altogether?”. Well, Twitter, I believe is the lifeblood of any business these days, for networking, fraternising with journos and generally being ‘in the know’. It’s very easy to miss important things going on in the industry when you work from a spare bedroom at home. So…. How long will I give it? Well, the bigger question is…. How long can I stand to do it for? This is not going to be as easy as it sounds. Turning my phone off in the evenings is like taking a dummy away from a baby, or asking a smoker to just ‘stop’ smoking. I’m actually addicted to my phone. There, I’ve said it. My aim is to do a month. I will report back in a week… and we’ll go from there! I am of course posting this at Midnight, but tomorrow is a new day! Speaking of social media, if you like this post- please share it with your friends! (Ironically, or course). Hollie x Is Social Media Addling Your Brain? -By Hollie Brooks