Have you felt it? That ick-ish feeling after scrolling through your phone for longer than you intended? When you notice yourself constantly drawn to check and consume? When the first thing you crave right when you wake up and right before you go to bed is checking your favorite app? When you realize you spend more time on your phone than with Jesus?
I think we all have, and I think some of us are starting to question the true harm it may be doing and want to put a stop to it.
This post is the accumulation of years of research on digital addiction, neuroscience, psychology, and what they are finding in regards to how technology is affecting our brain and consciousness. This will be a three-part video series. In part 1, I’m going to dive into your soul and brain and what’s happening to it, next I’m going to share what to do about it, and last I’ll be sharing my favorite apps and tools to keep you off your screens.
What’s the harm in the constant screen time? Let’s dive in. . .
How Your Phone is Changing Your Brain
Before we can defeat digital addiction, we first have to know why we want to. I’m talking about all technology. Social media of course fits into that but I’m talking about input addiction in general. Our constant need for information and checking our phone and technology. Social media, email, podcast, text messages, financial market, sports, Netflix, news, even the weather. Anything that keeps you constantly checking and anything that takes your attention every day.
#1 Are You an Addict?
App creators want to make you an addict. The people that design these apps are exploiting human psychological vulnerabilities using psychological hooks. They know how your brain works and designed the apps to be irresistible.
Seeing what other people are doing and getting likes is really exploiting your psychological vulnerabilities and neurotransmitters to get you hooked. They know your most valuable resource is not your money, it is your attention and it’s your time, and they sell that time to advertisers that get you to buy things.
The developers in silicon valley don’t use or let their kids use the technology they are creating because they know how destructive and addictive it is. They use their time to grow their minds instead of diminishing them.
You know digital addiction is real, the more you do it the more you need to get the same hit.
#2 Life Distortion = Mental Health Crisis
Your inputs determine your outlook
Who you are watching and following every day is shaping the way you view reality. What you are seeing isn’t real yet you begin to base what your life ‘should’ look like on it. They call them ‘influencers’ for a reason. The influence you. To buy things. To think a certain way about a topic. To want their life.
You can’t pretend that looking at other people’s lives all day is not affecting how you see yours. You see what other people have and what they are doing with their life while subconsciously comparing it to yours.
You are actually distorting your own reality.
On a physical level, the constant inputs and checking are harming your nervous system which then results in anxiety. We are physically feeling it in our bodies, whether we correlate it or not. Envy rots the bones. We don’t realize how much we are falling into envy and how much that is causing physical imbalances in our bodies. Some of the healthiest (mentally and physically) people I know stay far away from social media.
We wonder why there is a mental health crisis and so many of us are feeling anxiety, depression, and low energy these days when the research could not be any clearer – it’s the constant inputs that are draining our soul along with the constant comparison. Your brain and mind were literally not designed for that.
#3 Digital Pacifier
Let’s talk about the root reason we check things so often. We want to distract ourselves from feelings. Feeling anxious, bored, overwhelmed, angry, or exhausted.
If we want to master distraction, we must learn to deal with discomfort.
The problem is, when we turn to our phones every spare second we have and when we are feeling these emotions, it’s acting like a digital pacifier, atrophying any ability to deal with things that are the most difficult.
#4 Taking Away Creativity, Wisdom, and Solutions
As human beings, we are designed to be creative as the result of the discomfort of boredom.
When we are in solitude with no distractions or inputs, that’s when our default mode network gets activated and we can get creative ideas, solutions, and hear from God. But because we turn to our phones every spare second we have, we are missing out on the potentially life-changing ideas and wisdom that come from long periods of time with no inputs.
Imagine all of those little moments you check your phone in the day (in the bathroom, at a stoplight, waiting in line, before bed. . .) What if you couldn’t? What if you just sat in silence with no stimulation instead? That’s actually what our brains were designed to need. Multiple times a day. And we are taking that away which is causing us to lose our potential, ideas, and ability to hear from God.
Boredom is the incubator for brilliance. It’s the space we can hear what God has to say.
#5 Destroying Your Power: Focus & Attention
The superpower of the 21st century is your ability to put your attention where you want when you want for how long you want. It is the most valuable skill you can ever have, and social media is rewiring your brain to not be able to do it. Only people that are able to control where their mind goes will create the change this world needs to see.
You want a really strong muscle for attention because this is what allows you to hear from God and get the creative solutions and wisdom you need.
Sitting in silence and just listening for 20-30 minutes is almost impossible for people these days because we have trained our minds to pick up the phone every spare second we have which is rewiring our brain to not be able to focus.
I think we are missing out on the creativity, wisdom, insights, and love He has to share with us because we can’t stay focused on him long enough to receive it.
Your ability to focus is a muscle. The more you focus on one thing and then bring your mind back to that one thing when it starts to wander is like lifting weights for your mind. Many people think that not being able to focus is just ‘who they are’ but really, it’s how their environment has made them. With daily focus practice, you can begin to build your focus muscle. But if you don’t practice, nothing will change just like if you don’t work out, you won’t grow muscles.
What you give your attention to is what will fill you and what you are filled with will come out.
We consume more information in ONE day than people 400 years ago consumed in their ENTIRE LIVES.
Our consciousness needs to “digest” every single piece of input we are exposed to. Consume too much and you get (very) bloated. And sick.
People often follow over 500 other people. No wonder we are anxious and overwhelmed, your brain was not designed for that. It was not designed to know what’s going on in so many others people’s lives every day. It was meant for connection, to have a small group of people know what’s going on in your life and you know what’s going on in theirs. Knowing what all of these other people are doing that you will never personally know or don’t have a relationship with is causing mental chaos.
We know we feel sick if we overeat but we are not making the correlation that when we consume too much media, we feel mentally sick. Your mind needs time WITH NO TECHNOLOGY to heal, rejuvenate and process just like your body needs time with no food to heal and rejuvenate.
Your mind only has so much space. You can choose what you fill it up with. You can fill it up with seeing what your friends and influencers are doing OR you can leave that space empty and allow God to fill it with creative ideas and wisdom. It’s going to get filled, either way, you choose with what.
Your Brain and Soul Need You
The Constant checks and input are. . .
- Filling your mind with useless information leaving no room to hear from God or get creative ideas or wisdom
- Not giving your brain and mind a chance to heal, process, and rejuvenate which is damaging mental health.
- Taking away your ability to deal with hard emotions
- Causing chaos in your soul and overloading your nervous system causing anxiety, overwhelm, depression, low energy, and any other health imbalance.
- Rewiring your brain to NEED to check your phone all of the time. It’s destroying your ability to focus and hear from God.
- Causing you to view your life in a distorted way and be influenced to think a certain way and buy certain products.
- Wasting your time and life and damaging relationships with loved ones.
Alright, we get how bad it is, now what do we do about it? In the next video, I am going to explain what to do about digital addiction and the amazing tools and practices I do to control it instead of letting it control me.
Meditation – how to hear from God