The Pope and Social Media Sanity

Apparently the Pope is concerned about the information ecosystem and the negative effect it is having on our lives (BBC Radio 4). The point he was trying to make was that a continual bombardment of information is having a detrimental effect on our well being. He’s got a point, it’s continual noise with TV, radio, newspapers (remember them?), mobiles, laptops, PCs, tablets etc. all delivering information to us 24/7 – you get the message.

Of course, the way to maintain sanity is to take in the important stuff and ignore the rest. Then we’ll have the time to reflect quietly and make the right decisions. But how?

Kids playing with their X-Box games or watching the X-factor in a world of their own. It’s hard to break the cycle. You’ve seen (or been) those lost souls wandering the streets transfixed by their mobile devices. Continual access to e-mail and social media networks has just increased this trend. Even going for a quiet walk is no guarantee of inner peace when you’ve taken that Blackberry or i-phone

New studies are showing how social media is changing us – shortened attention span, low concentration etc. This one from Singularity Hub (apt name) summarises it brilliantly;

The challenge, however, is to harness social media networks in a way that users can benefit from them rather than suffer. Help users concentrate on those elements that interest and stimulate them, rather than getting distracted and sidetracked.

We just need tools and techniques that help us to do this and the social media community is working hard to develop these tools and we are no exception to that.

However, there are limits to what technology can do – as ever it’s down to humans to harness it correctly – some people will always watch too much Big Brother or become addicted to Twitter. My favourite statistic is that the average office worker checks their e-mail every 90 seconds! How can we get anything done when we can’t resist this constant temptation. That return to personal discipline has got to come and maybe it will. Maybe we are just adapting to this new version of the information ecosystem and eventually we will go full circle and start talking to each other again!