6th June 2018
I am sitting in a Starbucks Coffee shop away from the perfect confines of my house. Even though I have a truly comfortable house, an amazing room with all the best-selling books in the world, a super-fast internet connection with a state-of-the-art iMac with all the software in the world, including all the gadgets connected to it — I am still sitting down in a Starbucks Coffee shop on a single seater sofa next to a table with my espresso in front of me.
Because lately I have found out I cannot work productively when I am home.
And why is that?
Because when I sit down to work, almost immediately I get the following reactions:
- I get hungry
- I get thirsty
- I feel like reading a book
- I feel like going to the toilet
- I feel sleepy
- I feel like playing with my dogs
- I feel like digging into the fridge to check if there is a snack
And if that doesn’t happen — something even worse always does. I get distracted thanks to the persuasive power of the internet. And this in itself is the MOST DANGEROUS & DISTRACTIVE ELEMENT of them all.
THE INTERNET MEDUSA
On my smart device or desktop, almost every minute there is a notification or alert from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, FB Messenger, Whatsapp, Gmail or one of the online games that I play.
And mind you — this is not a joke when I say — ALMOST EVERY MINUTE.
However, I don’t mind it.
You see, it is incredibly satisfying, addictive and necessary for me to check what is happening in all these areas. Its like once upon a time — being logged online only gave me the feeling that I could receive an email from ‘someone’. But today, being online at least for me is a matter of necessity & entertainment — both which have become an integral part of my life.
Its like every breath I take, I have to check on youtube which NEW youtube video has been uploaded by one of my favorite content creators — who practically ensures that it is not only entertaining but intriguing & interesting as well.
And when that is not happening, someone on Facebook posts some interesting video or news article or funny image — which I strongly believe I MUST BE THE FIRST ONE TO FORWARD as I am supposed to be an influencer.
And when that is not happening — I get a notificiation that someone sent me an email, a message, a response or a reply to a video, article or post I uploaded on some media platform.
And when none of that is happening, my mind races towards my online game — which is by far the most addictive among them all. The hourly rewards I receive if I log in, if I complete a task, if I achieve a small task or complete a mission — I get another reward or surprise from the game. Ah….how nice it feels when I get that purple diamond or that super muscular character….. Feels so real — isn’t it?
And that in turn makes me admired & respected by my gaming peers — who are REAL people. And on top of that — there are secret missions, rewards & bonuses I receive for going the extra mile and playing the game some more. After all — who doesn’t like knowing his name is at the top of the leader boards?
So the more I play the game, the more I get rewarded, the more respect I get from my peers and the more I advance in the rankings. An amazingly rewarding & dangerously addictive vicious cycle.
So with all these temptations — tell me, how in the world can anyone focus on doing deep work?
And when I factor in that I have ADHD with super high levels of distraction — can I possibly focus on doing work?
PRODUCTIVITY DECLINE OF 90%
To give you an idea how impossibly hard it is for me to focus on work and how easily I get distracted — I have been addicted to playing the game of Dominations for the past 4 months to the point where my productivity related to work, the time I am spending on work and the amount of effort I am spending related to work — has declined by nearly 90%. Fortunately for me because of my passive income & my ability to generate large sums of money for few hours of work — I am able to indulge myself in this behavior. However, if I continue to ignore this pattern and make this behavior second nature to my life — I know for a fact, I will not only destroy my life, I will end up destroying my brand and everything that I worked so hard to create.
It is scary when I think about what technology is doing to us human beings, the power of influence & persuasion it has on our lives and the behavioral patterns it is creating in us. Even more disturbing is the importance & prominence smartphones & smart devices are gaining on our generation today. Today almost every child I see has a Social Media (Facebook or Instagram) account, has access to the Internet, watches youtube for entertainment or education, exchanges thoughts & ideas with others online via email or messages and creates a digital persona of themselves online. And it is no longer a situation we can afford to take lightly.
In fact, can you believe if I tell you this — In Koh Samui, Thailand — a simple island, I see laborers who earn less than USD $3 per day having a cheap smart phone but with racing or strategy or card games on it. And they are actually playing that game during their free time.
And if you thought that wasn’t disturbing, their children, the small little children who sleep on the pavement or on the sand, covered in dirt & mud — they are huddled together watching a youtube thanks to the free Wifi they are able to get from a nearby house or shop instead of playing with each other.
Personally speaking, I find this trend very disturbing. The fake illusion of knowledge, the false sense of confidence, the pointless importance all these virtual rewards of likes, shares, comments, points & fame the social media landscape is offering us today is becoming a very dangerous precedent. Never before in the history of mankind did something so disturbing go out of control and take over the world. And never again will be witness such a transformation.
Right now as I type these thoughts, the news of Artificial Intelligence, Sex Robots, 5G & A Totally Digitally Automated Futuristic City is being discussed. And the speed at which technology is growing — I one day see the doomsday that is so glamorously shown in Hollywood — when Artificial Intelligence take over.
I know this may sound very far fetched but trust me — it is not.
THE DREADED DOOMSDAY — IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
Consider this incident that happened a few minutes ago.
On youtube, I found most of the videos related to MMA (mixed martial arts) because I am a fan of this sport and I am subscribed to those channels. So I just searched ‘Seth Godin’ who is one of my favorite authors. I found a few videos of his but nothing interesting, so I closed the browser.
After a few minutes, when I reopened youtube to check if there were new videos uploaded — I saw the following:
- On youtube — the Latest Videos of Seth Godin & Various Talks on TED like that of Seth Godin
- When I checked other websites — the advertisements that popped up were that of other speakers & authors like Seth Godin speaking at various conferences asking me if I would like to take part.
- On Facebook — An advertisement related to Blinkest which had Seth Godin’s audio series
- On Amazon — The recommended books were like those of Seth Godin’s books & authors like Seth Godin
- On Instagram — The ads were also related to Marketing & Branding
And I was like…. “er….okay…. er…wow”
And that is exactly why today Data Privacy & Personal Information is becoming such a hotly discussed topic. Yes, I am pretty sure nothing about what I stated is surprising. After all this is become a norm for most of us. And where data privacy is concerned, the majority are not too bothered because the Starbucks Coffee picture that I just took may not have any importance for National Security. But when you think about how the Arab Uprising took place, How Donald Trump got elected and how today many countries are issuing strict penalties in relation to what you post online — this in itself should give you an idea what impact information technology is having on our lives.
So as I sit down at Starbucks writing down this article, making it a point to get myself away from the addictive powers of the internet & social media and yes, trying my level best to focus on work and only work — I seriously wonder — what is next for me, for you and for our coming generation.
I don’t know about you buddy, but I would concerned. Very concerned. Because as I see it now, it is impacting me, my life, my behavior, my patterns, my lifestyle, my choices and everything I do. And I don’t see this being a healthy change. Just as smoking kills, alcohol is addictive, processed foods have long term negative repercussions, recreational drugs absolutely destroy human life — this digital revolution is slowly creeping into the DNA of human evolution and its having a slow but sure dominance in our lives.
I know one thing, given human nature — the weakness & lack of self-control of the consumer and the greed of the creators — there is only one result that will come out from all this —Slow Death. The slow death of self-control, the slow death of delayed gratification and the slow death of self-awareness. And that is where I akin the impact of the digital revolution in my life as a Slow Seductive Scary Suicide.
I doubt the developers of apps, softwares, online products & services are looking forward to ensure that you buy less from them, get less addicted to them and be less engaging on their platforms. It is a cut-throat do or die world where there is only one goal — The winner takes it all. And that is where is the winners will be the creators, sellers & influencers. And the losers — people like you and me.
I just hope like how I switched off from its magical influence for a few hours by sitting down at a Starbucks Coffee shop and doing my work — I can one day find a happy & welcoming solution to this addiction permanently. But given the odds of failure, the persistence of today’s money & power obsessed world & human nature — I doubt I can.
So until then, I guess it all comes down to a simple solution.
Switch off the internet.
Close the smartphone.
Drive down to a Starbucks Coffee Shop.
And do my work uninterrupted.
Glad that is one solution the Digital Revolution, Facebook, the Internet & the powers that be don’t have dominance over.