Distractions: Social Media, Abstinence & the Secret of Addiction

Who doesn’t know what to do to achieve good results? Who doesn’t know that salad is healthier than chocolate candy? In the Information Age, there’s barely any excuse for not knowing. Everything is basically one Google search away. What is common is learnt ignorance, where we choose to not know because we don’t what to know. Perhaps, the truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Many are afraid of checking their health status. Others are afraid of checking their school marks while others are afraid of checking their bank account balance.

It does start from the little things where we are afraid of checking the remainder of our data bundle. This is one of the biggest fuels of inconsistency, deviation and wastage; not checking on your own progress though you feel that urge that you’ve deviated from your initial agenda. Also, not verifying though you are unsure and choosing to do the bare minimum with the pretense that you didn’t know the requirements.

We are all know what is right. It doesn’t guarantee that we will do what is right. What we lack is the ability to follow through till we achieve the desired results. In other words, we are lacking the ability to avoid distractions. Life is not just about doing the right things. It’s also about not doing the wrong things. Have you ever been fully motivated to sit down and work hard till you achieve a certain goal, only for you to be stuck on your phone 45 minutes later, scrolling through social media. You come back to your task and all that energy is gone. What is left is just boredom, demotivation and reluctance.

From one perspective, we live in a world full of distractions. Every product, lifestyle, fashion, accessory, software, tool, mechanism is designed to catch your attention. Everything you see, hear, feel, taste and smell takes a portion of your attention and craves for more of it till you crave for more of that thing. Technology is no different. It was designed to be persuasive and pervasive. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have synced into our way of life that fast. Every new invention and every virtual software is backed by research in human psycnology and is scientifically designed to “distract” you. That means it is easier today than it was yesterday to get distracted.

Does that mean technology is bad? Is technology hijacking our brains? Is it getting everyone synced in a virutal reality that is so addictive and unhealthy? I am no conspiracy theorist. It is scientifically untrue that technology is a distraction because everything is potentially distracting and addictive. In fact, anything that solves pain is potentially addictive. Yes, some people do become addicted to technology as a defensive mechanism against their own lack of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image.

After all, it is easier to tweet your ideas to a million people than to stand in front of a million people to convey the same idea. So is technology; video games, social media etc. ruining our children? The idea of thinking technology is a distraction for our generation is in itself a distraction. It is distracting us from the potential prowess of exploration and creativity that comes with technology. You are using social media to convey the idea of social media ruining this generation. Think about it!

So how do we stop getting distracted? One thing people do a lot but it never really works is strict abstinence. They say to themselves, “I’m never going to do that ever again”. They say it with all sincerity but fail over and over again. This is because strict abstinence is like pulling out a rubber band. It’s only a matter of time until all that tension is released and it ricochets even further than where it started. In order words, people who opt for strict abstinence end up doing worse. If you keep telling yourself not to do something, you build up a lot of pressure to actually do it. Why? Because that sensation of relieving the discomfort of telling yourself not to, is itself pleasurable. I just told you the secret of addiction.

This is why people smoke. This is why people masturbate though they hate themselves for doing it. This is why people swear they will never drink again but still do though the drink is actually very bitter. It is not the only reason why they richochetted to the old behaviour but it is the commonest. Once you keep telling yourself, “don’t do it! don’t do it! don’t do it!”, doing it relieves you of the discomfort. Neurologically speaking, we all do things to avoid discomfort, remember? Strict abstinence will always backfire. This is because we are wiring our neurocircuitry to expect a pleasurable sensation whenever we relieve ourselves of the discomfort we impose on ourselves. Thus, it becomes a cycle.

Bottom line: the biggest cause of all distraction is the instinctive nature within to avoid discomfort at all cost. It takes zero effort to live in your comfort zone. Wishes are free so everyone wishes for all the good things in life. However, nothing essential comes on a silver platter. The conquest belongs to the doers. To be consistent, to be revolutionary, to be relentless, to be determined, takes a lot of guts; Not just to want to do something special, achieve something extraordinary, or become someone great. No! It goes beyond that. In order to conquer the world, you need to conquer yourself. The biggest part of conquering yourself is denying yourself of the pleasure of distractions and the need to avoid discomfort. I love you ❤️

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