The Infobesity Epidemic


I’m in an intimate relationship with my iPhone.

It sleeps next to me at night. I feel isolated and lost without it.

I’m addicted to the little dopamine kicks that are stimulated whenever I see something new. My brain just loves the novelty. Cat dressed as a shark, click. An animated gif – fabulous – click, click. 

We’re all wired for novelty, stimulation and entertainment. Notifications, alerts and the fresh sound of a new message are all examples of what psychologists call an ‘intermittent reinforcement schedule.’ Intermittent reinforcement means that you’ll never know when or where your next reward (another like or comment) is coming from. This occasional reinforcement is a much more powerful motivator than consistent reward and it’s a key motivator for keeping us hooked up and on-line.

“I worry that the level of interrupt, the sort of overwhelming rapidity of information — and especially of stressful information — is in fact affecting cognition. It is in fact affecting deeper thinking. I still believe that sitting down and reading a book is the best way to really learn something.
 And I worry that we’re losing that.” Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

And there you have it (from Mr Google himself) – the Internet might be making us stupid.

It certainly has become a giant abyss that sucks up hours of my day and drains my energy. I’m constantly being bombarded by multiple forms of media coming at me simultaneously. Emails, texts and multiple alerts. It’s harder for me to concentrate, I feel overwhelmed, busy and quite frankly my brain hurts.

So what’s the solution?

We all crave connection and emotional intimacy.

We have greater access to information, people and resources and in many ways we’re much more connected than ever before yet we feel the most disconnected and alone. We need to embrace technology so it enhances our quality of life, not depletes it.

I’ve found the following tips incredibly useful for managing my own social media consumption.

  • Switch your phone to flight mode (the alarm still works) before you go to sleep so you don’t wake up to a barrage of alerts.

  • Turn off your notifications. All of them. You won’t miss them.

  • Disconnect from technology (TV, phone, radio and computers) an hour before you go to bed. You’ll sleep far better and won’t be as hyper stimulated.

  • Create some space. Don’t make FB the first thing you see in the morning or the last thing at night.

Do you have anymore technology tips? Share them in the comments below.

WellnessTanya MahComment