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Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain

23 September 2017

From Medium:

I’ve said before the first 3 hours of your day can dictate how your life turns out. And this often begins with the very first thing that you decide to put in your brain. You can either start you day with junk food for the brain (the internet, distracting apps, etc) or you can start the day with healthy food for the brain (reading, meditation, journaling, exercising, etc). When you start the day with junk food for the brain, you put yourself at a self imposed handicap that inhibits your ability to get into flow and prevents you from doing deep work. When you start the day with health food for your brain, the exact opposite happens.

Anytime I start my day with junk food for the brain, the quality of the day goes down. I’m less happy, focused, and productive. I spend a ton of time on the internet and don’t get any real work done. But if I start my day with health food for the brain, I find that my mood is better, I’m happier, more focused and productive.

. . . .

If you woke up in the morning, smoked a cigarette, ate 2 donuts, and washed it down with 2 cups of coffee, it wouldn’t be surprising that your physical performance is subpar. You’re probably not going to go out and run 2 miles or win a prize fight after that kind of breakfast.

But when it comes to our brain, we’re not nearly as mindful about the idea that we should treat the information we consume like the food we eat.

“When you wake up you’re in this theta alpha state and you’re highly suggestible. Every like, comment, share, you get this dopamine fix and it’s literally rewiring your brain. What you’re smart device is doing especially if that’s the first thing you grab when you wake up and you’re in this alpha theta state, is rewiring your brain to be distracted.” — @Jim Kwik

If we start our days by checking email, instagram, or the internet, we keep reinforcing the behavior of distraction until it becomes our new habit.

. . . .

As Mark Manson so brilliantly said, cell phones are the new cigarettes, And a significant amount of what’s on the internet is nothing more than junk food for the brain.

. . . .

When we read on the internet, we tend to scan more than we read. How often do you sit around at a dinner party discussing the amazing article you read on the internet? Almost all of my ideas for what I want to write about have come from books. Almost none of them have come from reading articles on the internet. I’ve even found in my cases that when I read a physical book that I previously read on Kindle, I tend to get far more value out of it.

Link to the rest at Medium

PG isn’t certain whether there is any valid science behind this, but, if so, his brain is in bad shape.

However, he disagrees about getting more value from a physical book than an ebook. For him, the experience is different, but comprehension, retention, contemplation (if it’s that kind of book) are at least as good with an ebook.

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28 Comments to “Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain”

  1. Obviously Medium has never perused TPV early in the morning searching for articles missed the previous day.

    Dan

  2. “How often do you sit around at a dinner party discussing the amazing article you read on the internet?”

    Dinner parties?

    Anyway, I discuss the articles I’ve read on the Internet with my amazing wife. We have quite detailed discussions, too. See, there’s this thing called “synthesizing” where we combine disparate facts and come up with “conclusions.” And most of it from the Internet.

    “Medium”: where we publish anything

    • “Dinner parties”

      I understand how you feel, Bill. Without criticizing people who enjoy throwing dinner parties, I don’t have the time to do that sort of thing.

      It seems a bit like a social practice from a bygone age. Gatsby threw dinner parties.

  3. If you woke up in the morning, smoked a cigarette, ate 2 donuts, and washed it down with 2 cups of coffee, it wouldn’t be surprising that your physical performance is subpar.

    If I didn’t do something very similar to that, I wouldn’t even be able to leave the house. 🙂

    When we read on the internet, we tend to scan more than we read.

    Patent nonsense.

    How often do you sit around at a dinner party discussing the amazing article you read on the internet?

    I discuss things I’ve read on the internet all the time. But then, I don’t spend a lot of time on Medium.

    I’ve even found in my cases that when I read a physical book that I previously read on Kindle, I tend to get far more value out of it.

    More patent nonsense.

    I note in passing that the author published this screed on the evil, brain-damaging internet, rather than having it calligraphed on fine vellum by a team of monks.

    If you enjoyed this article, you’d love my newsletter. You’ll receive a weekly article like this as well as immediate access to a swipe file, where you’ll get my best tips (yadda-yadda-yadda)

    No thanks. My brain has already been damaged enough by reading a single example of this person’s articles.

  4. The problem: the willpower to do the right thing isn’t there until the brain wakes up – by which point the energy to do the right thing is gone.

    Maybe I should learn to live with the pain of waiting for the brain to come on, instead of trying to make it go away at any cost. I’ve blamed it on the damaged brain; I keep trying to learn how to make the damaged brain do anything.

  5. You mean there are people who *don’t* start their day with TPV?

  6. If there’s a point here, it’s not the electronic medium that’s at fault, but whether the first thing you read is twitter or a longer piece.

    The other point, of course, is what happens to all of us: we go to the internet to check just one thing. Two hours later we look up. I hate that.

    • For me, it’s more like 12 hours later.

      • And I love rather than hate that; the amazingness of internet discovery never ceases to fill me with wonder, the ability to learn a dozen things per minute whereas in a library or printed dictionary it would take hours.

  7. Why is the internet junk food? And reading books inherently good? This whole essay is poorly-reasoned, new-age, self-help-guide-selling gobbledygook.

    • It’s not junk food. This article is another scolding piece about how “X is bad for you”. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heard it all before.

      I’m a grownup who gets to choose what to read and when to read it without having to be told that there’s something wrong with my reading habits.

      Also one who wishes “Talk to the hand” never went out of fashion, because I find it sufficiently insulting for scolding nannies.

  8. If you enjoyed this article, you’d love my newsletter. You’ll receive a weekly article like this as well as immediate access to a swipe file, where you’ll get my best tips (yadda-yadda-yadda)

    Can this be considered attempted assault? 😉

  9. “…and washed it down with 2 cups of coffee…”

    What’s wrong with coffee?

  10. Wait. Starting my day on the internet is damaging my brain? That’s no longer acceptable?

    Damn. Now I gotta go back to slamming down a double Bloody Mary, an Irish coffee, and kickin’ the cat to damage my brain.

    First thing to do tomorrow: get a cat.

    Or maybe I should offer the job to Srinivas Rao, the one responsible for this screed. Hey, Srinvas, have I got a job for you! The pay sucks, but the upside is you will NOT be damaging your brain on the internet.

  11. It’s not so much that the internet is bad for you… It’s that I have stuff to do productively, and the internet browsing a la morning newspaper just sucks all that productive energy right out of me. (Like it’s doing right now…)

    The morning newspaper was at least time-constrained — you reached the end of it, and the rest of the day could be made productive. There ain’t no way to reach the end of the daily internet without self-discipline, and we all know how weak a reed that is.

  12. Well, that’s one person’s opinion.

  13. I have energy but no productivity first thing in the morning. When I was a kid I got used to getting up before dawn to milk cows and shovel manure. When I was working for the man, I did the equivalent in east coast morning teleconferences at 6a pacific. Now that the day is mine, I rise at the crack of dawn and shovel mindless authorial manure until I wake up and become productive around noon. All the damage was done long before the internet was a gleam in Sir Tim’s eye.

    • TBL did not invent the internet. He invented the World Wide Web.

      I’m told Al Gore invented the internet and that it is a series of tubes. 😉

      • Ouch! You got me! I should have said “the web,” but then would folks understand that I was referring to what the OP calls “the internet”? I should have worked harder to say what I meant clearly. Life is to learn.

  14. Years ago I read a book called Never Check Email in the Morning, which was brilliant for me… the clamor of urgent but unimportant tasks tends to distract me from the actually important ones.

    But seriously… junk food? There’s no science here, just wild supposition. I’m surprised the fellow didn’t use the word “new fangled” somewhere in there…

    We just access information a differently now, but when you get down to it, it’s essentially the same thing as reading a newspaper over breakfast.

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