Social Media is screwing with my ability to focus so I’m probably going to quit it. Maybe. At some point.

Focus is sometimes… challenging, isn’t it? I sometimes think I used to be better at it. Then I read an article that said I’m probably right:

“In fact, paying attention involves two separate functions: ‘enhancement’ (our ability to focus on things that matter) and ‘suppression’ (our ability to ignore the things that don’t). Interestingly, enhancement and suppression are not opposites, they are distinct processes in the brain. The latter becomes less reliable as you get older.” [my emphasis]

I’ve noticed it of late, and my downfall is social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram. These distractions also have a intermittently reinforcing effect, and keep me coming back for another potential hit of dopamine.

Facebook

It used to be Facebook, so I ditched that in January. Occasionally I go back on it for a couple of composition- and filmmaker-based groups. I’ve developed a weird sort of aversion to the site now though – like an ‘ick’ feeling, especially when I see that little red notification number at the top along from the logo. Like I’ve eaten too much cupcake icing (frosting for my US readers)…

I feel freer without it, but I’d compare it most to the feeling of bunking off school. Like I should be on social media, like the good little citizen-freelancer I am.

More ‘ick’ feelings here! Oh, how I loathe the word ‘should’.

Twitter and Instagram

Nevertheless, in shock turn of events, I ended up moving my addiction to ‘lurking’ over on Twitter and forever scrolling through Instagram. Fecking brains. Defeats the object a bit, eh?

So I’m doing a month off Twitter to see if it makes any difference. A week in and I’m adding Instagram to the sabbatical. It does feel like a relief. Quieter. Calmer. More deliberate. I’m definitely focussing better and more deeply on the work I really have to get done by the end of this week for Flood. More bunking off of school heheheh…

Until that itch appears and I. JUST. WANT. TO. CHECK. THAT. FEED… which does dissipate unexpectedly fast once I consciously decide not to do it. Until it comes back in 10 minutes. Proper annoying.

Maybe I’ll not get that feeling as much by the end of the month. It worked in January on Facebook. Maybe Twitter and Instagram might be going the same way.

Focus

My ailing ‘suppression’ system ain’t getting any younger but, perhaps, I can help my focus by deliberately keeping as much distraction out of my line of sight, earshot, and arm’s reach as possible. Could be the placebo effect but it’s working quite well so far.

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