What Are You Paying Attention To?

As someone that is easily excited about the latest in technology, I always look at the good that can be had by the latest trends. Ironically, there is always a downside to it. Technology, at it’s core is designed to make human lives better. But at what cost? If anything, the recent news about the data leak through Facebook and Cambridge Analytica proved that technology can be used to work on our deepest psychological traits. No matter how far we advance, some things stay the same. The key one being: Attention.

Let’s be honest

I don’t know about you, but I cannot remember the last time I read the fine print of any “Terms and Conditions”. If we are honest, no one usually does. We are always in a rush to click on “Yes” so we can get on with our lives. Attention. The thing that older people mention that younger people lack. But in an age where literally anything is available at your fingertips, it’s more about what you do with that knowledge rather than how much you know.

Show me a man’s calendar and I will show you his priorities

Time

What it really comes down to, is time. When we are bombarded with so much information, our human minds are unable to cope with all the data. Hence why it’s easy to say “I’m Busy” but not know what exactly you were busy with. Soon enough, you will run out of days to understand what you were busy with… but that’s a different post.

The Antidote

So what’s prescribed? Be present. In the moment. Live in the now. When you boil it down, it’s attention. How we spend our Attention and what we give our attention to, is the thing that will grow the most. And so, began my quest for honing my attention. But before I started, is there anything that could stop me?

You are not so smart

And with a name like that, I was really skeptical on what it had to offer. Then again, I realised that perhaps, the fact that it’s calling me (or rather lots of people) out on my self-perception of my own “smartness”, I decided to dig a little deeper. It seems that I had liked the Facebook page a while back and then considered that perhaps I should check out the podcast. I jumped on the website and the first paragraph on the About Page, had me hooked.

You Are Not So Smart is a blog I started to explore self delusion. Like lots of people, I used to forward sensational news stories without skepticism and think I was a smarty pants just because I did a little internet research. I didn’t know about confirmation bias and self-enhancing fallacies, and once I did, I felt very, very stupid. I still feel that way, but now I can make you feel that way too.

What does this have to do with anything?

Ladies and Gentlemen, May I Have Your Attention Please

Ironically, the first podcast was on Attention. Yes! Please Mr. Mcraney – tell me how dumb I am.

There were a few good topics in the podcast, that I won’t spoil for you but the one thing that I will mention. Working as an emergency services volunteer, I am always perplexed at what caused the accident? I mean, would self driving cars be the solution to the fatalities that we face?

Visual Attention: We assume that if something is important, you will automatically see it. Unless you are looking for something, you will miss most things.
So we have built up this expectation that if we see it, we will notice things.

In car accidents, they have now made using your phone attract fines, however people think that handsfree headset is the next viable choice, but it really isn’t.

Just because you are looking at things doesn’t mean you will see it.

The biggest thing is in car accidents, it’s between a car and a two-wheelers. Most of the time, the casualty will report that the driver saw me and still drove through.

The challenge is, if we are multi-tasking with the same cognitive ability, we are not paying enough attention – talking on the handsfree and driving is like chewing gum, talking and whistle at the same time.

Why is it easier to talk to someone next to you versus someone on the phone

1. Quality of conversation is better.
It’s easier to hear someone next to you than someone over the phone.

2. Another set of eyes.
They aren’t distracted by driving. They’re more likely to notice something out of the ordinary and can yell “watch out” when they see something unusual.

3. Depends on social context.
If you’re driving and you stop talking… a person in the car, will actually look around to see what caused you to stop talking. There is no pressure for you to explain why you stopped talking. As the driver you know that your passenger can do that for you. You can stop talking without consequence. Whereas on the phone, that isn’t there. Ironically, you are aware that the other person on the phone doesn’t know why you stopped talking and it’s the social pressure to explain that, which can cause an accident.

So how does he recommend fixing it?

Just keep your phone away so you are not tempted to respond to notifications. Simple? Yes.

It’s definitely worth listening to the podcast in it’s entirety. Best 40 minutes ever!

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