Alcohol, Cigarettes, and The Internet

The human brain is a mysterious organ. It creates thoughts and memories. It controls our bodily systems and function. It can create things out of nothing. It can even adapt following traumatic experiences. While the brain is the centerpiece to the human body, we choose to harm it. And we may be hurting it without even realizing what we’re doing. A disease is plaguing our control system. This disease is unlike any other. It doesn’t showcase the same characteristics as bacteria or viruses. The symptoms cannot be easily detected, and it spreads like wildfire. Sounds like we have a major epidemic, that plans to wipe out the human race, on our hands, right? Yes and no. The reason being is that this disease is called social media. While the name isn’t a reason for being a disease behemoth, it should ring a bell for many people. We’ve all heard of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and so forth. In fact, according to Statista, 1.55 billion people in the world have an active Facebook account. That’s a little over 20% of the world population.

With so many people already sucked into the behemoth of social media, the disease is only going to spread further to the outskirts of the world, coupled with the rapid technological growth that the world experiences today. The problem with this disease is that it acts as an innocent tool simply used to connect with people you wouldn’t normally be able to talk to. It reduces the need to talk face-to-face or over the phone, which is great and all, but it does have adverse effects. Nicholas Carr, author of the renowned book “The Shallows,” explains that the Internet “is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention.” While the brain can do tremendous things that continues to baffle doctors today, it can be faced with conditions such as information overload or infoxication, and infobesity.

Regardless of what they’re called, the mind can only process so much information at one time. In a study, done by one Angelika Dimoka, who is the Director of the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University, it was found that when the brain has hit processing capacity, which can be done by absorbing too much information, the prefrontal cortex of the brain shuts down completely. When it shuts down, “[people] start making stupid mistakes and bad choices because the brain region responsible for smart decision making has essentially left the premises.” (Dimoka). The shutdown of the prefrontal cortex isn’t the only reason that information overload is bad. In fact, Karol Krol of Lifehack, explains that “it stops you from taking action.” When we consume information at a very fast non-stop pace, “the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.”(Krol). We as individuals and information seekers, need to realize that we don’t need to know everything in order to have a happy and successful life.

While this disease ravages our world, we must come to terms that there is no cure for this prolific destruction. Rather, there is only prevention. We must have self-control and set goals and only seek for the things we need, rather than the things we want. Self-control is key, without it we’re doomed.

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