Distraction, Destruction

It’s pretty clear to me that digital addiction is to the mind what cigarettes/tobacco are to the body.

We feature, glorify and ape gamification techniques and growth hacks to increase DAUs in the same manner that fifty years ago cigarette manufacturers competed to differentiate, build habits and eventually loyalty.

The torrent of popular culture broadcast through these streams of social channels drowns out that small voice in the back of our rational heads suggesting that perhaps this isn’t healthy, in fact is actively harmful.

That the norm of continuous partial attention in social settings, however intimate, is probably no different from lighting up in those same situations half a century ago and blowing smoke in your interlocutor’s face.

That changes in brain patterns caused by such addiction that erode healthy comprehension of complex issues presented in long-form are surely the same as the changes in physiology wrought by tobacco that similarly abrade channels of healthy circulation of blood and nutrients.

And that it would seem in both cases it will take decades of studies and campaigns before legislation became punitive enough for norms themselves to change. Big Social is likely no different from Big Tobacco.