Short Circuit Your Reflexive Tendency to React

Gladstone, B., Neufeld, J., Jones, R., & Ferris-Jones, S. (2012).  The influencing machine . New York: W.W. Norton & Company. (library)

Gladstone, B., Neufeld, J., Jones, R., & Ferris-Jones, S. (2012). The influencing machine. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. (library)

"There was one study that suggested that 85% of people with cell phone wake up with it and they go to sleep with it. They're never apart. There's a certain anxiety that occurs when the cell phone is out of reach.

This is a condition of our lives now. This is the backdrop of our lives now. 

If we don't become aware of our own reactions so that we can short circuit precisely the kind of addictive and reflexive response that we have to these things, and if we're unwilling to turn them off, we will participate in the continuing debasement of our democracy. I am afraid of that... 

It's the carving of neuropathways—if only to get more dopamine squirts—that I'm really worried about. It's a much bigger picture than the nonsense that Cambridge Analytica did and that Facebook facilitated in a really targeted way can could facilitate over and over again, deepening the echo chambers in which we comfortably ensconce ourselves. 

I won't see the ad that someone else will see because they've figured out I'm not in the demographic and vice versa. 

That's the kind of social disorder—the disappearance of the public square, the appeal strictly to emotion—[which is] this bigger issue. Advertisers have known for a long time—there's a huge raft of research that shows—it's about engaging people's emotions if you want them to buy your product. It's not about appealing to their reason. 

There's also a huge amount of research that shows that choosing a president is pretty much the same thing. It's not about policies. It's not about their past history. It's about how they come off. What's their personality? How do they make you feel? 

I've come to the conclusion that the only way to battle this thing is through mindfulness meditation. It is designed to force you to step aside and go, Hmmm...I'm having emotion. 

The second you do that, you have short circuited your reflexive tendency to react and decide on the basis of emotion. 

If we could all just say, Hmmm...I'm having an emotion, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in right now." 


Header photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash