How Social Media Is Affecting Our Focus
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How Social Media Is Affecting Our Focus

Social media is creating a distracted culture.

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How Social Media Is Affecting Our Focus
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During the fall semester of my first year at college, one of my communications professors challenged us with a social media fast. We were able to take as much time off from social media as we needed. Thus, some students lasted two weeks, while others only made it through one day. I actually went through a week of no social media. I was pretty impressed with myself! My results of the fast did not show that social media is directly affecting relationships, but people as individuals. Social media is literally rewiring our brains to multitask, leaving American citizens unable to focus on one topic at a time. Of course, this multitasking mayhem consequently affects our relationships and every other aspect of our lives.

The Internet and social media are transforming the way we learn and remember facts by overloading our memories with useless information. Scientifically, our intelligence is measured by how well our brains convert information from short- term memory to long-term memory. Our working memory, or short-term memory, is only able to retain certain amounts of information at one time. After learning a certain skill, our memories require four to twelve hours to process that information to long-term memory. If another skill is learned within those four to twelve hours, both skills are insufficiently executed. A common source of working memory overload comes from divided attention, which is found when we use social media.

Social media is physically training our brains to multitask and skim reading materials. With suggested videos, advertisements, hyperlinks, notifications, and the immediate access to other’s lives, social media is a haven for confusion and frenzied opinions. Unfortunately, social media seizes our attention only to scatter it. Social media commands our attention at a much faster rate than other media sources, such as newspapers, radio, and even television. Because of our nation’s addiction to social media, our brains are trained to be distracted in other areas of our lives.

As students attempt to fully concentrate and study, our phones are always by our sides, distracting us and breaking our motivation. Even if we turn off our phones, our minds always have a thousand tabs open, as we’re simultaneously thinking about what to eat for dinner, the test next week, and the funny dog video on Facebook. During my social media fast, my intense multitasking became clear. Surprisingly, the fast was not as difficult as I expected. However, I did notice myself picking up my phone or creating a new tab for Facebook whenever my mind wondered. Although, I remembered the fast seconds after opening social media and immediately logged out of my accounts. As I studied for a test, I was highly distracted by other things that I still had to complete or events that occurred that day. Because I did not have social media as a placeholder for when I was distracted, my brain wondered from subject to subject, as it attempted to juggle all of the different topics. I could not focus on one matter at a time and properly retain information. Of course, social media may not a distraction for some people. However, it definitely encourages it in all of us.

Because of social media, the multitasking mayhem happening in our country is consequently affecting our relationships, as people are no longer able to focus on personal, in-depth friendships. Our society values the quantity of friends over the quality of friends, when it should be the opposite. I will admit that I have had trouble building personal relationships while also maintaining social media accounts. People, especially my generation, are more concerned with maintaining their followers on Instagram than the few relationships that will lend a shoulder to cry on in times of desperate need. As we are constantly training our brains to be distracted, our personal relationships suffer. So, put down the phone, close that Facebook tab, and actually spend time with those who matter to you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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