We often forget that we are animals, even though we seem "advanced." We are tool-using animals; sophisticated products of the manipulation of the material world, so we can use shiny phones and clothes made of completely synthetic fabrics. We are certainly a clever species, but are we as unified as we are intelligent? In a post-Enlightenment world, technology seamlessly integrates into our daily lives, and I think it's important to ask ourselves whether our use of "intelligent" technology is also "wise." Just because we can, does that mean we should?
As someone who is more sensitive to the overall stimulation, I have been working to bring more wisdom into how I interact with technology. It should not surprise me that changing how I use technology has ultimately had an incredibly positive impact on my ADHD symptoms. Over the past month, I have tried to reduce screen time, eliminate distractions, and use my computer, phone, and media consumption more intentionally.
The more I understand about ADHD and sensory overload, the more I begin to believe that the hyperconnectivity of the world has a huge impact on my nervous system. In the long history of humanity, we have only lived in cities for a few thousand years. We have only been using smartphones for less than twenty years. Social media has only become prominent in the past fifteen years. Our animal brains naturally struggle to keep up with the constant stimulation, because biologically, we are still geared to forage, live in small groups, and follow the diurnal rhythm of the sun.
Now add conditions like ADHD, where sensory overload and difficulty with attention are major features. Taking an average neurotypical brain, it's already struggling to cope with the amount of information and stimulation that modern society has, and adding brain wiring that struggled even before computers appeared. For those of us who are highly sensitive, digital mindfulness (even mindfulness as a whole) is also very important.
I decided last month to set new parameters for my use of technology, to return to some old "analog" ways of doing things, and to spend time discovering where I might be...