A quote from Homer Simpson has always stuck in my head
“…every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain..”
Neuroscientists would probably have something to say about the scientific validity of that statement in terms of learning and memory but in the short term, when we think about mental capacity and attention, I think there is something important in there.
I’ll cut to the chase, I recently deleted Facebook from my phone and it has improved my life.
We only have so much time in a day and a lot of that is taken up with things that we have to focus on; work, socialising, playing sports. In the time that we have left, we only have a finite capacity to think, concentrate and learn. As Daniel Kahneman describes in Thinking Fast and Slow (the most important book that I have read), engaging our “system 2”, the logical, rational part of our brain requires energy and this energy is finite.
I was finding that too much of my downtime – from spare minutes here and there to whole hours on the train – was being taken up by opening Facebook on my phone and gaining little of value. I didn’t know how much of what I was reading was true, I found myself constructing arguments in my head in response to posts that I didn’t agree with but not posting due to the non-constructive and fairly valueless nature of debate on Facebook. My friends’posts, love ’em though I do, just aren’t of value to me because they are usually only self serving and that is the nature of Facebook. It left me frustrated but i seemed to be addicted – a complete waste of that finite time and energy that we have.
So I deleted it from my phones. Now in my downtime if I’m going to browse my phone I look at News360 (I used to use Zite before it was closed). I have a varied newsfeed of different sources to make sure that I get a balanced view of a wide variety of news and interests. False news doesn’t seem to be much of an issue on there and because the feed comes from a wide variety of sources it is easier to detect anyway.
With some of the other time I write this blog.
I’m not saying everyone should delete Facebook from their lives (but I would recommend it) but I do think that everyone should have a think about how they spend the precious currencies of time and energy.