Real thinking is a rare commodity. Well, it´s not a commodity at all. Some corporate think tanks might look at it that way. The truth is that thinking is more a product of how you percieve the world, and yourself. Unfortunately, the path to thinking is fraught with distraction. A world of distraction.
As workplaces, businesses, academia and schools requires people to think outside the box, deliver more quality and be innovative, the time and ability to do so is diminishing. Due to the onset of email and social media in particular, the way people think, and reason is getting more and more shallow and distracted. Even in our private lives most of us get so absorbed in the instant gratification of unlimited access to information that we are in a constant state of mental arousal.
There has occured a singularity in world history. Information is suddenly at everyone´s fingertips, all the time, in an instant. This has a particular impact on our brains and minds. Brains that have been conditioned by millenia to be used in a completely different way. We have been so hypnotized by information technology, TV, and other media that our trains of thought are as superficial and random as the average twitter post. Neuroscience is just barely catching up with the consequences of how these changes affect our brain and it´s neuroplasticity.
We are constantly in tapped into a virtual world, and it´s affecting our thoughts, and thus our self-perception. As a consequence, we lose something precious. We let other people and their information define us to a degree that we think the “truth is out there” somewhere.
Why? We no longer focus, and adress the tasks at hand from our own authority. We no longer think authentic thougts. We are born to use our minds in an authentic and independent way.
The value, and thus impact of our work is profoundly impacted by this trend. We crave innovative thinking, and think rapid and virtual communication is the only solution. In addition, this state of distraction creates problems in relationships and our kids suffer even more. However, the most severe impact involves our relationship with ourselves.
One place in our lives where this might have the biggest consequence is in our ability to make choices. In making good choices one needs to see past the surface of information and separate the relevant from the irrelevant. Also, we need to discern the quality of the information at hand. Finally we need to anchor those descisions in our own authority, not somebody´s prepackaged ideas.
Information technology has partially contributed to what psychologists define as the “paradox of choice”: The situation where the more alternatives you have the more unsure you are about the choice you make, and therefore become dissatisfied aftewards. Having unlimited access to alternatives makes one either a) unable to choose, or b) constantly in a state of dissatisfaction.
How meet this dissatisfaction and overload of alternatives? More importantly, how can we reclaim our thoughts, and make better choices?
More on that later…