Attention Deficit Disorder & Technology

Today, technology has made it easier than ever to do, know, find, experience basically anything. We are constantly connected to some technology, either consuming or creating information. This constant connection and easier access to information has been mostly positive--affording greater opportunities for education, health, societal well-being (such as crime prevention), entrepreneurship, relationships, etc. However, technology has also negatively impacted our social, emotional, intellectual, and even physical well-being . Technology is making it harder for our brains to focus on what matters, to keep up with and process information the way our brains were meant to process information. Technology seems to be conditioning us to having attention deficit disorder, loosely speaking.

Constant notifications yearning for our attention and action, endless possibilities of trajectories to explore on the internet, millions of people with billions of ideas, opinions, 'truths', etc, are all a few click/taps away. It has indeed become harder than ever to stay focused, to pay attention, to stay on task. Multi-tasking is the new norm. We are restless. We are busy. We are unproductive. We are anxious. We are curious. We lack control. In addition to the inability to pay attention and stay on task, let's reference one of the 'medical' symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)-- "paying too much attention to too many things and details to a point where one loses the ability to focus and pay attention to the task at hand." Google it. Your brain is great at filtering out thousands, if not millions of bits of information you encounter on a daily basis and therefore allowing you to internalize, remember, experience only a focused set at a given moment. This is a fundamental part of cognition. Otherwise you would go, well, crazy. 

The next like. The next view. The next text message. Turning users into addicts, and believe it or not, corporations benefit from your addiction (in billions of dollars at times). That's a different topic by itself. Do realize that there is a threshold where constant yearning for digital attention and connection depletes you. Instead you, the user, remain lacking the attention power you need to be a productive, intellectually, emotionally healthy member of whichever group of society you are interacting in at a given moment.

Technology for the future should be "Calm Technology". Technology that allows us to accomplish tasks. Technology that allows us to connect with people more meaningfully, and not necessarily "signaling" technology as Don Norman calls it (one way communication). Technology that understand the barriers and existing constructs of the human condition and human need, and designs for this. Technology that fits into our lives, augments without distracting.