A profound observation about the digital age… pic.twitter.com/uyMjiUPtzc
— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) January 13, 2016
I saw the above Tweet, and it made me laugh. Honestly, I might be “that” guy. Let me explain.
I wrote recently about the need to check less frequently my digital devices. When I entered the business world, I was in a series of “sell side” jobs, like investment banking and management consulting, whereby you often had to check for messages and emails. You never wanted to keep a client waiting.
When I moved to VC, I still remained very much on email. Then, with the advent of digital media, and all of the cool apps, I found that I often had my nose buried in my iPhone and iPad.
Gradually, over many years, I habitually checked my devices literally dozens of time a day. And, my brain started to feel like it was getting wired to be ADHD, in all honesty. There was very little “flow” in my day. But, I didn’t do anything about it. I figured it was “normal.”
Then, as I wrote a few weeks ago, I read the book Sapiens, which chronicles 2.5 million years of human development. It hit me like a ton bricks that my brain isn’t intended to be jumping from one digital asset to another and absorb a constant barrage of information, most of which is inconsequential. My brain is shaped for real interactions with other humans, creativity, and planning.
Then, I had a cool meeting with an advisor to one of our companies. He was a product manager at one of the largest CPGs out there in the world. He mentioned how his job was to market certain products that people didn’t need and to get them to become, essentially, addicted to the products, so that they would buy them over and over.
Now, that meeting made me really think: am I mindlessly allowing myself to be brainwashed by companies out there that push sodas and potato chips? Mobile apps can be cool, but aren’t they designed to make me a habitual user, who is in fact addicted?
So, for the past few weeks, I’ve done an experiment: I check email and digital apps/sites only a few times a day. I know that if someone needs to reach me urgently, they’d text or call.
For some reason, I now feel more observant. My brain feels more “rested” but more “active” at the same time. It feels less cluttered.
For example, I recently got a cup of coffee and didn’t bring with me my digital devices. I just sat there, enjoying my coffee and just thinking quietly.
So, yeah, I might be “that” guy.