Four years ago, I began blogging; two years ago, I embraced Facebook; eighteen months ago, I dipped my toe into Twitter and Goodreads. ‘Social media is essential to writers’ I had been told on countless occasions. ‘When I consider representing authors, the first thing I do is check their Facebook pages’ a senior editor said. However, the Globe and Mail’s series, Digital Overload by Erin Anderssen, is causing me to reconsider my approach in today’s world of non-stop interaction.
According to the first two parts of the series:
there is growing scientific evidence that sprinting through the day in a state of super-charged distraction takes a serious toll on our mental and physical health.
Daniel Coleman, author of Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence suggests that “we are being pulled away from the things that enrich our lives”, like talking to one another, being intimate, enjoying our children, thinking, being creative. If you need further incentive, Facebook has been linked to depression and a growing email inbox can lead to raised heartbeats and blood pressure.
even simple web searches caused people to take shorter breaths, or hold their breaths entirely, restricting oxygen to their brains.
Being ‘on’ 24/7 is a ‘killer intellectually’. A recent study found that the constant use of social media and email “led to a temporary 10-point drop in the IQ of the study’s participants”.
Nathan Zeldes, co-founder of the Information Overload Research Group has this to day:
The worst damage is to creativity and your ability to think – your mental acuity. Being interrupted and stressed all the time dumbs you down, you make worse decisions, and you are literally less innovative.
Yikes! I need all the IQ and creativity I can muster in order to write successfully.
So what’s the right strategy? I welcome your suggestions and in the interim, I plan to allocate a set amount of time to Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads every day. I plan to turn email off when I’m writing. And I’m going to continue limiting my blog posts to two per week.
There! I feel better already.
PS – I apologize if this post is part of your digital overload 🙂