Getting sucked in

Don't get sucked into the games that other people want you to play.

Mental distraction has become something of a disease.

No matter where you turn there is always the compelling allure of something to watch, some kind of news to listen to, online videos of things to be interested in and lose yourself into, and endless streams of pictures and information just waiting for you to spend a fragment of your limited attention on.

Powerful algorithms keep you engaged for longer, tempting you with exactly what's going to grab your attention and force a commit of your time to consuming.

Marketers unsurprisingly call it 'the attention economy', but essentially what they and media companies are peddling is a lot like junk food for the mind; and the mind is very easily lured into the trap of wanting more and more of this kind of fix.

If just for one day you critically monitor your information consuming behaviour, you'll most probably be appalled as to just how much of your time and emotional state you waste scrolling through complete nonsense on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

Even seemingly 'useful' business platforms like LinkedIn and news portals like The New York Times are hotbeds of clickbait and attention sapping wormholes that really add very little concrete value to your life in the greater scheme of things.

Some suggest that what you should do in response is have dedicated times during your day where you turn off your wifi router, or put your phone in a locked draw, but if we're truly honest about it; when did a state of constant media consumption become the default position from which we should try to take a break from now-and-again?

Research has confirmed that the human mind has a finite and limited amount of bandwidth with which to successfully cognitively function. This limited mental bandwidth can quickly and easily be consumed and overwhelmed by easy access to information, leaving us feeling anxious and powerless.

Knowing how damaging information overload is, and how easily we can get sucked into losing ourselves while being exposed to it - media, for people who value their mental state, should be thought of in the same way that somebody who cares about their physical health views junk food.

Nutrient-lacking content and information should be like eating McDonalds. the rare exception rather than the rule.

E-mails, IMs, the CNN newsfeed, talk radio, the current price of Bitcoin - all of these seemingly urgent and important sources of information should be used with a warning. All are bandwidth drainers and take away from focusing on doing deeper, more meaningful things with our own time.

Don't get sucked into the games that other people want you to play - be vigilant with how you spend your time and what you give your attention to.