Sunday, August 29, 2010

Disconnect to Connect

OK – admittedly there’s some irony in this topic since blogs are an element of the digital device world. However, as Matt Richtel of the New Your Times discusses, our digital dependence has both positive and negative implications when it comes to how our brains function. His two most recent articles and focus on the impact of going totally off the grid (and into the tempestuous wilds of the Grand Canyon) and how keeping ourselves constantly distracted with digital detritus is making it more and more unlikely that we’ll be coming up with new ideas (or retaining information or even learning in the first place).

The problem lies not in using our Blackberries, computers, or iPhones but in our constant use of them. Every time we have a novel experience our brains show new patterns of neural activity BUT only when we give ourselves time to reflect do these new experiences begin to link to other memories and knowledge in our cranium. It is during these periods of reflection that we incubate ideas and enable playful speculation and fantasy – the breeding ground of creativity. With our constant distraction we are robbing ourselves of these periods of contemplation.

Long periods of thoughtfulness are a rare luxury, our life styles long ago leaving us with only small bits of free time, micro-moments, in which to process and reflect on all we’re taking in. If we fill each of those micro moments with another text, search or e-mail check we’re risking shutting down the creative process which consistently demands time for incubation. And the temptation is endless - even game makers are looking to fill those 2-4 minute micro-moments by focusing on developing games that can be played in only a few minutes.

So if you truly want to operate at your creative best – you’re going to have to learn to resist the internal pressure to stay constantly connected. From time to time throughout your day, you’ll need to disconnect from your digital tethers to connect to your thoughts.

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