Hello, peeps! I thought I’d burden you today with author insecurity #72: tech inadequacy.
I was chatting with a colleague the other day who asked me if I used a social media management tool and I about flew right off the handle.
BECAUSE LOAD ME DOWN WITH YET ANOTHER @%$&^%^*%&^@%*&$ THING I HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO ONLINE! WTF????
I already feel freaking inadequate when it comes to every new &^A&*#^%A(*&#@^*A&@()% iGadget that comes down the pike. And every time I turn around, there’s something else. AUTHORS! USE THIS! DOWNLOAD THIS TOOL! CONSOLIDATE! DIVERSIFY! ARE YOU ON INSTAGRAM? PINTEREST? IT’S THE LATEST THING! HURRY! DO YOU WANT TO SELL BOOKS OR NOT? GET THIS, FOOL!
YOU’RE BEING LEFT BEHIND LIKE A PILE OF CLOTHING IN A WAYWARD RAPTURE!
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately feeling inadequate in this brave new writing world gig. My colleagues are all jumping onto the next new social media platform or doing consolidation with management tools (jeeziz freaking crisp my eyes glaze over on Tweetdeck) and probably selling assloads of books and getting shit-tons of exposure because they’re all using all these new tools and tech and toys and here I remain. Puttering along.
I try to feel a little better about it because I do work a regular job, so I don’t have much time to try new things and I tend to use my free time for doing life things (usually offline) and for writing. And no, I don’t bury my head in a device 24/7.
Which makes me realize that perhaps I’m actually becoming Author McOldsterPants.
I’m at an age where time really matters, where every single moment of every single day is sort of precious. That age where you start losing people in your life who are either your age or maybe a little older, where you start thinking about your parents and their ages and how you’re going to negotiate the increasing signs of their mortality. Of your own mortality. The age where you slow down a bit and your energy level isn’t what it used to be, where you much prefer to spend Friday night detoxing from the work week with Netflix or a book than clubbing and partying (and yes, I did my share, thank you very much).
An age where you really don’t want to spend much more time on social media than you have to because you’ve been there during the day and your job requires that you’re on the interwebz quite a bit and when you shut down your work computer, you just really don’t want to deal anymore with the constant frenetic overwhelming infodump that appears to be everybody’s life these days.
So, yeah. I did fly off the handle a bit when my colleague asked that question about yet another damn tech tool that I feel I should be using because HOLY SHIT I MUST BE MISSING SOMETHING IF I DON’T USE ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME.
This, I’ve decided, is what happens when you live in a culture that is bombarded by information all the time. You feel that if you’re not engaged with that info, you’re missing something and you’re somehow inadequate. Or if you’re not imparting information 24/7 you’re missing something. And you half-ass the 9 million tasks you’re doing because guess what? Information overload –> multitasking that nobody is good at. We’re not hardwired for it, so quit thinking that you can do it. You can’t. Sorry.
This from an article in The Guardian last year about “multitasking” and all the distractions and information flying around in this modern world:
Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking. Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation. To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex has a novelty bias, meaning that its attention can be easily hijacked by something new – the proverbial shiny objects we use to entice infants, puppies, and kittens. The irony here for those of us who are trying to focus amid competing activities is clear: the very brain region we need to rely on for staying on task is easily distracted.
Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task. And the kind of rapid, continual shifting we do with multitasking causes the brain to burn through fuel so quickly that we feel exhausted and disoriented after even a short time. We’ve literally depleted the nutrients in our brain.
To make matters worse, lots of multitasking requires decision-making: Do I answer this text message or ignore it? How do I respond to this? How do I file this email? Do I continue what I’m working on now or take a break? It turns out that decision-making is also very hard on your neural resources and that little decisions appear to take up as much energy as big ones. One of the first things we lose is impulse control. This rapidly spirals into a depleted state in which, after making lots of insignificant decisions, we can end up making truly bad decisions about something important. Why would anyone want to add to their daily weight of information processing by trying to multitask? — Daniel J. Levitin, “Why the modern world is bad for your brain,” The Guardian, 1/18/2015.
Multitasking, according to neuroscientist Earl Miller at MIT, is an illusion and it makes us “demonstrably less efficient” (Levitin, The Guardian).
So here we are, surrounded by devices and distractions and expectations that we are reachable every single moment of every single day and we absolutely have to deal with everything the moment we become aware of it. You have a smart phone, after all — WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING MY CALLS???? OR RESPONDING TO MY TEXTS THIS VERY SECOND????
I recommend you give that Guardian article a read. It delves into how we manage to become addicted to social media, and how addicting it actually is, and often leaves us craving more of it even though it’s not actually giving us any kind of deep reward.
Maybe that’s part of why I’m Author McCrankyPants about this benign question my colleague asked. Because I’m already feeling overwhelmed and bombarded with information from all sides and the thought of adding something else makes short-circuit noises in my head.
But maybe, too, it does mean that I’ve aged beyond all these newfangled things. And maybe that makes me nervous, too, acknowledging that soon I’ll be telling people all about growing up in a world without cell phones. Oh, wait…
Regardless, I have no answers, but I do know that too much tech and too much information probably isn’t good for your neurons or your mood. I’m a prime example. So shut this blog off and go get some sunshine!
Happy Saturday, all. May your weekend provide deep, focused thoughts and relaxation.