The negative impact of overstimulation

Recently, I read an interesting article about overstimulation & technology & how all this overstimulation is really making us go crazy.
The author compared it to “rats on cocaine.”
I thought it was a good read & worth discussing.
Let me know your thoughts.

https://michaelsnellen.medium.com/we-are-like-rats-on-cocaine-bbb94afff2ab

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Good read.
But can humans change themselves? I suppose not until they reach the threshold of pain due to over-stimulation. It is in our DNA to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
MicroApplFaceBooGoogMazon monster keeps exploiting the pleasure part, and couldn’t care less about the human pain. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix has acknowledged that human’s need for sleep is their main competitor. Here is what he said:
“You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night,”
“We’re competing with sleep, on the margin. And so, it’s a very large pool of time.”

EDIT:
We live in some interesting times indeed. There is one computer retailer in Canada. Over the past 20 years it evolved from selling budget home and business computers, expanded into mobiles, large screen TVs, and eventually Gaming PCs, and energy drinks. Several years ago it stopped selling TVs entirely. Mobiles never really took off due to specifics of the Canadian market. Today 90% of their products are Gaming PCs and parts in many forms, shapes, and colors. The remaining 10% are various accessories, and Energy Drinks for Gamers.

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As an autistic person, one of the reasons I favour basic phones, is that smartphones are actually quite distressing - painful even - for me to use. Unless I have managed to go to extreme lengths such as flashing a de-Googled AOSP ROM with ad-blocking hosts file, and minimal utilitarian apps to the phone (i.e. phone/camera/SMS), the sheer sensory overload from such a device (even with as many notifications reduced/blocked as I can manage) is too much. In fact, the sheer overload I get just while I’m configuring a new device away from its default settings to be less overwhelming, is more stress than it’s worth.

This is what the rest of the world is now experiencing, thanks to constant barrages of notifications, endless-scroll feeds, 24/7 availability and suchlike. They are experiencing exactly the same sensory overload, it’s just that their threshold is higher and they don’t realise that this is what’s happening. And as a result, I am seeing the same behaviour (and outright meltdowns) from neurotypical adults, that I learned to manage when I was still a kid.

I have relatives who I used to love being around, who I don’t speak to any more, because shortly after getting smartphones for the first time, their personalities gradually changed, and now (to put it bluntly) they’re complete and utter a-holes. They can’t hold an adult conversation, have forgotten how to debate (or even think) rationally, are impatient, obnoxious and rude, stressed all the time, and get angry if anything (including a real interaction with a person physically present) interrupts their glazed dead gaze into a glowing screen. The main thing I’ve noticed is the extreme polarisation. If you don’t wholeheartedly agree with them word-for-word, you’re some sort of alien, sub-human, “other” who is the ultimate evil and can’t possibly be right. They also have such painfully-short attention-spans, even my 3 year-old is doing better. That article really resonated, because it really is like they’ve been snorting way too much coke for way too long.

The changes were initially very subtle and were very gradual, so I wasn’t aware of it at first. And that’s the big problem. It’s like a death by a thousand cuts. I think some very bad personality-changes are happening all around and hardly anyone is noticing because “it’s not me, it’s those crazy Trump supporters” or “those BLM thugs again” or whatever. Nobody sees the changes in themselves, just in “those other idiots”.

I know correlation isn’t necessarily causation, but there’s a bit of documentary evidence of a link scattered about the 'net already, plus I started spotting similar uncharacteristic behaviours in myself when I was using Facebook, and think they have subsided since I stopped using it. I’m now attempting to be vigilant and watching-out for these behavioural patterns in myself. Not an infallible approach, but at least I have an awareness I can hopefully have a better chance of spotting it.

I’m aware there are a lot of factors here at play (e.g. “dark patterns” in interface-design, psychological manipulation by various companies or groups), but I’m sure that overstimulation is making us more susceptible to those other factors, and amplifying their ability to stress and damage us.

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Human beings are extremely adaptable creatures. However, we crave comfort & convenience. That comfort and convenience is a DRUG. Once we get used to it, we are addicted. There is an interesting book I read a long time ago, Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. In one of the chapters, he writes about the FIRST Agricultural Revolution & how prior to that the humans inhabiting the Earth we’re mainly hunters & gatherers & very nomadic. Then we began to invest more and more effort in cultivating plants for food. Within a couple of millennia, humans in many parts of the world were very doing little from dawn to dusk other than taking care of their plants/harvests. It wasn’t easy. Farming demanded a lot of them. The author used wheat as an example. Basically the life of pre-historic humans revolved around their farming. Studies of ancient skeletons indicate that the transition to agriculture brought about a plethora of ailments, such as slipped disks, arthritis, and hernias. Moreover, the new agricultural tasks demanded so much time that people were forced to settle permanently next to their fields. They no longer moved around, met other tribes from other areas/cultures, they simply just stayed put, doing the same back-breaking work, day after day. WHY? Because of convenience. It was more convenient to have food always available instead of always moving around looking for it. So, if you want to look at it from a different point of view- we didn’t domesticate plants/farming, they domesticated humans.
I think technology is very similar. It’s great to have all these conveniences at our fingertips, but at what cost. Sometimes I feel that technology is domesticating us right now.

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Under and overstimulation creates a set of reactions in our body and, consequently, our behavior. The human being needs urgently to create a balance. No environment or living being survives without homeostasis.

I don’t want to go deep into the technical part. Still, I believe that the experts in behavior that work close to the technology marketing teams somehow stimulate our motivational mechanisms. The result, you know.

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Our perception and cognitive abilities as humans are really extraordinary. We register way more stimuluses that we can imagine but then we subconsciously choose the ones that we proceed with. Attention enables us to choose which stimuluses are important. But it just gets harder and harder to focus if we are overstimulated. Long story short, this is why our cognitive processes such us memory worsen with too many stimuluses around us. On the other hand, we get used to particular level of “cognitive noise” around us. Some of us are even more tolerative and feel less focused when all of a sudden is surrounded by complete cognitive silence. It really depends on personal preferences but i believe more and more people tend to get used to continued stimulation. Banner blindness is a great example of peoples adjustment to overstimulation. Our brains keep developing all the time but for the time being I believe it’s better to just be conscious about our surroundings. Try to notice what makes our brain work better and what makes us more distracted, then try to reduce those sources.

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@urszula: I highly recommend Johann Hari’s book Stolen Focus, to which I am listening, with Johann superbly narrating it, on Kobo audiobook (also available at Audible).

If you still have your FoxNation subscription, then you can see Johann interviewed about five episodes ago on Tucker Carlson Today.

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I think this is what makes smart phones so dangerous. Social media architects have admitted that is it all created to get us addicted and many of them do not allow their children to use what they themselves have created.

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@theauditor I think you’d enjoy reading this article:

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