Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tune Out, Turn Off, Unplug

I got an iPad for Christmas. It's a source of endless hours of fun. But it has got me thinking (when I'm not playing Real Racing HD): what if we have reached another peak, namely: Peak Distraction? They're calling it Divided Attention Disorder (or DAD - a worrying acronym that), the result of information overload that stops people form concentrating on tasks as they search for ‘pellets of social interaction’.

What if, instead of ever increasing online activity, things go into reverse? It might seem absurd to suggest this given the onward march of Facebook (1.76 million users in Ireland alone), but there are a few pointers to the coming Peak Distraction. JWT's 100 things to watch in 2011 identifies Digital Downtime (trend no. 25) as an emerging trend. Just as schools have 'Walk on Wednesday' will we see 'Facebook Free Friday'? Similarly, Marian Salzman identifies a desire for more tangible/manual tasks as part of her 11 Trends for 2011 (see Trend 4 on the counterculture move to break from 'SoMe' - social media). And some neuroscientists are getting in on this new zeitgeist - as they worry that the dopamine enhancing experience of Facebook, Twitter etc may be turning us into digital addicts.

We're not there yet, but don't be surprised to see an emerging counterculture that is less Timothy Leary and more Henry Thoreau. Tune Out, Turn Off, Unplug - but only after I get to the next level on Real Racing HD...


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