Mainlining Novel Stimuli

Yesterday’s post was not an anti-technology rant. (How could being “anti-technology” even make sense? “Tools,” the word we used to use for “technology,” have been part of the human race since the beginning. To be anti-tech would be to be anti-human).

It’s not that iPhones are bad. The trouble is human nature. Our minds naturally seek out novel stimuli. New, shiny things to look at, listen to, or think about. The problem is that in our current culture we’re mainlining novel stimuli.

It’s like the difference between drinking coca leaf tea, a traditional beverage of cultures in South America, and snorting the concentrated version of it—what we know as cocaine. The tea is mildly stimulating, interesting. The white powder is addictive.

We have to decide whether we want to gain the benefits of the Internet—like exposure to new ideas—or if we simply want to be information addicts.

Mindfulness meditation helps mediate the addiction. It may also, perhaps controversially, require cutting a few things out—like quitting Facebook, or switching from a “smart” phone to a “dumb” one.

The way we use our attention determines our experience. We should use it wisely.