The Attention Crisis: Is Technology Really to Blame?

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People are not paying attention to one another the way they used to.

We’re simply not present in our interactions with others the way we used to be.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

Have you ever had the experience of being at a restaurant with someone who is texting under the table?  Or maybe they ask you to wait a minute while they reply to a text.  Or two.  Or twenty.

Or perhaps you’ve been in a work meeting giving a presentation and while you’re presenting someone gets up to answer their phone.  Or they reply to an e-mail as you’re talking.

In each of these situations, the person is clearly not paying attention to you., even if they may be giving you half of their attention.

They are there with you physically, but their minds are engaged elsewhere.

They are not truly present.

Is technology causing people to be less present?

There has been much speculation about the prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) having skyrocketed.  Technology is being blamed.  However, a recent article by the Psych Congress Steering Committee concluded that rates of ADHD are not actually increasing.

We’ve nonetheless all undoubtedly noted this increase in distractibility.

In my opinion, the underlying factor to our lack of presence is not actually related to an attention problem.  Nor is technology truly to blame.

The real problem is that we’re using technology as a way to numb our feelings.  We’re using it as a way to disconnect from our emotions.

This is the same as drinking to numb our emotions, overworking to numb our emotions, or overeating to get away from our feelings.

It’s all the same root cause.  Technology is simply another outlet that allows us to not feel and deal with our feelings.

This is a concern because we’re doing it unconsciously without even realizing it.

It’s impacting interactions with our colleagues and with our families at home.

It’s a particular problem if we don’t have alternate skills to cope differently with the stressors in our life.  We’re bored, we grab our phone. We’re excited, we grab our phone to share it on social media.  We’re mad, we grab our phone and we numb out by scrolling through post after post.

Technology is only detrimental when used unconsciously

Like myself, you might have the desire to make sure that you’re using your phone and other technology consciously.  You might find yourself realizing that you want to make real decisions about when to engage with technology, rather than letting your impulses unconsciously control your actions.

If so, my challenge to you would be to pay attention to the feelings that are drawing you to technology.  Once you’re grabbed it, think back to what you were doing, thinking and feeling right before you grabbed your phone.

Try to identify what your feeling was in the moment and how that might have impacted your decision to use technology.

With awareness comes conscious choice

Technology is not all bad.  It has brought lots of great advances, has created unprecedented access to knowledge and a connectivity to the larger world that did not exist before.

What’s important is making sure that when we use it, we’re using it consciously.

If you and your team are interested in learning more about how to be present with your emotions and not use technology as a way to numb your feelings, get in touch.  I’d be happy to chat with you about how we can work together to create an environment of stress free communication at work.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

The Integrated Brain State: Balancing Thoughts and Feelings

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Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former Speech-Language Pathologist, Lindsay applies her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams, so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two neurodivergent children, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend well beyond her professional expertise.

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former Speech Language Pathologist, Lindsay applies her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams, so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two children with pervasive mental health challenges, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend well beyond her professional expertise.

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Hi, I'm Lindsay

Leadership communication skills to elevate team performance.

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