Our brain is wired to most efficiently communicate with cells designed to carry out tasks based on what we’re attempting to do. For example, when we’re drinking, alcohol is stored in brain cells as it passes through our system. We all have a base tolerance level. Once we begin to feel the effects of the alcohol, what’s happening is that our brain’s ability to store and our body’s ability to process the alcohol, are being exceeded. The effect we feel is due to our brain seeking “plan b” brain cells to attempt to carry out the tasks. It takes the brain longer to do what it usually does and that’s the feeling of being tipsy or even drunk. Do it often enough, or bad enough once, and you risk killing off brain cells and having your brain rewire itself through less efficient means. If you’ve ever known an alcoholic that’s declined mentally, this is what’s happened.
With that mind, pun intended, the internet is doing something similar yet different to our brain. In a study published in World Psychology, researchers from Australia, England, and the US determined that our reliance and constant use of the internet is essentially rewiring our brain. Among the ways our brains are changing, especially for younger generations who have only known the internet as a way of life, are outcomes like lower cognitive recall, due to the ease of accessing information. Also, a brain that’s better suited to multi-task because of dealing with constant information and distraction but with less ability to memorize. Lastly, higher highs for successful people and lower lows for all but the most successful.
The third takeaway requires some added explanation. In times prior to social media, we often compared ourselves to those in our social circles. Our social circles commonly reflect people of similar success to ourselves. In today’s social media age, most people have highly successful people within their extended social circle. For them, social media enhances their life with the positive affirmation they derive from that circle. For all others, it can lead to a sense of being inadequate that didn’t exist before. As all of this comes together over time it’s rewiring the ways our brain is being asked and trained to work for, and we’re getting what we’ve trained it to do. It might be enough to make you want to have a drink.
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