This is far from science, but a bit in to behavioural science. So here we go.
Last night I came to thinking. I am working on three projects, one that will be quite large and change my life, one that is quite large and hopefully change the face of science. Both are pending on publication and funding thus you will have to wait to hear more.
Upon that I came to think about my health and time and my poor tired brain, and a link a friend of my shared. If you want to boost your twitter spirit and actually get good, relevant info about gamification and technology follow my friend (@jesperbylund).
Anyway, back to the main focus of attention, attention being the key word.
My friend linked to a blog which pinpointed out something I as a neurobiologists see every day but rather never had reflected upon in everyday life. It is always the most obvious facts that surpass our perception. The blog stated that the reason why we don’t (in short) do well on our tasks (our to do list) is not because we don’t have enough time, it’s because we don’t have enough attention to put on each task. I can not remember the blog, otherwise I would have linked it.
In Neuroscience, the first lesson we learned was that our attention is complex and inter-individually strained, our brain capacity for attention was quite small in our species. It is deep within the very base pairs of our genes. It is one of the most profound evolutionary tools we have, to place attention to one thing while ignoring the other to gain the most relevant information. Our brain is plastic, but even plastic things as stretchable and as firm as they can be, can also break, overload and burn (if you’ve ever been overweight and sat in a plastic lawn chair, you’ll know what I mean)
I started to ask my self, what takes you attention, and foremost what makes your attention weary? Tired? Overloaded? . I had a list of 20 items, most of them being places and technology, one perfect example being facebook.
Then I started to compare twitter and facebook out of a friend/brain load perspective. My twitter friends are 140 words and spaces long. They are informative, give one picture instead of 20 and often link to relevant sources. This is what my very loaded attention (full-time student/scientist/artist/volunteer) craves and needs.
I dislike overloaded stimuli with no sense of coherence or relevance, I have little patientce for them. That is the main reason I left World of Warcraft. Though amazing game, there were too many elements that fatigued my attention, perception and memory (I discussed this with a known professor in cognition who agreed that Blizzard should take a look at their colour scheme).
If I would have not had the same premises outside WoW i.e. IRL (high pace work with large flows of information) perhaps I could have managed to bear. Because you see, unlike perceptual speed, verbal memory or ‘spatial orientation among others, attention has lower tolerance for plasticity, and why would it. Its been keeping you alive ever since 60 000 B.C, I hypothesize based on THIS.
And sure it’s good to challenge your brain, but challenge it the right way, give your progenitor cells challanges, not chores.
Now your attention is fading, I will sum up in a bit if you’re still with me.
Facebook deserved the Nobel Prize of keeping social life flowing, and is a wonderful tool. I love ad’s and I love tha fact that the ads now are aimed at me instead of feeding my attention more crap. I like the fact that Facebook let’s you see friends you haven’t been able to find, to find you jobs, to create jobs and to gather us, and all I need to provide is information, about myself, to the extent that I like, with no obligation of how much or when.
But it also lacks so many elements that my attention needs. Features which other networks might provide and I can’t stand passively wait to see them developed, but have to use and develop them myself.
I have always been a telephone person. I hate texting and I prefer skype. Why have I tried to adapt to technology, technology develops and should develop through my needs instead. My brain does, my genes do, so why shouldn’t the technology I use. Because, I have had hard time iggnoring the Swede in me but here it goes jantelagen, I am not like everybody else. I am special and I have other needs and requirements.
But when I left, or announced leaving, people acted as if I was weak-minded (Big LOL), as if facebook was a city I was moving away from and not an app, which in reality it is. The phone still exists, twitter still exists, and I still thankfully exist.
And I realised upon talking to a friend who expressed fears of me leaving that it was much like leaving a cult.
1) You will be outcast from social invites (because people will forget to invite you if you’re not an easy click away)
2) People will not give you information but answer, go back to facebook and you’ll find out where the birthday party is!
3) And just for fun, when you delete your account, facebook makes one last attempt to show you loving pictures of you and your friends telling you it would be awful for them if you left “dear A, B is going to miss you” (l am not joking)
I am looking forward to seeing if this hypothesis will be fulfilled.
I’m giving my attention and broadening of other social media that fit my needs better a chance, because I’ve realised my capacity. And that my friends is all any of us can do.
And Mark Zuckerberg if you ever read this, keep up the good work, but if you truly want to advance, employ a cognitive neuroscientist that will take social networking to the next level.