Our Recent lifestyles have crushed our abilities

Uncovering the most common problems faced in the 21st century

This article provides deeper insights into some of the problems faced by the internet and tech users of this era and some tested methods to combat those.

Internet, the most helpful and evolving tool for mankind. Some of the most impeccable inventions 🚀 and discoveries are possible today because of the Internet.

But, have you ever noticed your focus being drastically reduced while reading a lengthy article (Don’t worry, I’ve tried to keep this short & useful😛), or a chapter from a book? Have you ever faced difficulty in recalling some important information that was perceived very recently? And, quickly reached out to your phone to fetch the same? 🙋‍♂️

Chill out, We’ve all had a history of remembering stuff really well especially during our school exams (They completely su*k). I specifically remember my schooling in India, where I had to memorize 2 to 3 pages long essays and question answers while preparing for my final exams. Most of my studies happened in books, and I used to love reading books. But, I don’t feel like reading books or reading lengthy articles anymore, I’d rather watch Game of Thrones or a nice movie 😎

If you love reading books, pls ignore me, I’m lying 😂

We are getting used to quickly check our notifications, messages, and take further action on them by replying back to a friend or take a quick glance of an article. Most of the apps over there are designed by highly skilled UX Designers and Copywriters for retaining users within the app and bring them back to the app. This behavior rewires our brain for skimming short snippets of information at once and in a regular time-interval. For example, notifications from social media apps, a new message, or an email alert. Gradually, we are aiming for information that can be consumed quickly and we are learning the habit of procrastination if we encounter lengthy content.

In addition, there are so many interesting resources available today for information consumption which makes us overwhelmed before even starting with something. Some common behaviors are 10–15+ tabs opened on our browser, unable to finish reading a single webpage. This is mainly because the web psychology & UX is designed to redirect users to new links and webpages as they start skimming a webpage — This eventually results in multiple tabs + Incomplete content + Excessive overwhelmingness.

Image: Raconteur

The number of tweets, likes, posts is exponentially increasing, but the distance between our own kind is also exponentially increasing as well. It almost took this Pandemic to stay home and spend some quality time with our family and loved ones, but still, we are trying to keep ourselves engaged with some or the other thing. We all have 1000’s of friends on our social platforms but, we struggle to share any emotional matter or information with any of those social friends. I think Social media has formalized our connections with our friends and family. Of course, I agree that the internet has helped us to build strong communities across the world, but we are drifting away from people who are physically close to us 😥

I know all this might sound lame when we all can see some great discoveries and breakthroughs made in the history of mankind using tech. But, we all envision the amazing to happen to our future and stop to live in present and enjoy the moment. I also agree with our competitive and fast-moving world which comes with an additional gift like stress, anxiety, depression, and more… I deliberately remembered a popular Tamil saying, “வெளுத்ததெல்லாம் பாலல்ல மின்னுவதெல்லாம் பொன்னல்ல” which means Everything which is white in color is not as safe as milk, and everything which glows is not as pure as gold. Our online society can seem very sweet and safe for us, but it isn’t.

As I mentioned earlier, internet communities are growing rapidly and the platform to share thoughts is also increasing. If everyone is engaged in sharing their thoughts, who’s left to listen and make calculated decisions? I know that it’s our fundamental right to express our thoughts, but we are losing our patience, the capability to listen, and becoming quick-witted which might not help us in the long run. As we grow in age as well as in career listening patiently comes very handy, but with an extra filter to it to bring down incoming noise or garbage data to zero. I’ve seen many people who boldly express their opinions and advice online but, unable to do it with real people. It’s always very easy to share and comment across social platforms, but it's hard to follow it as well as to convey the same information to a real person patiently. Attention to all the designers, Listening is one of the most asked soft skills from companies and Hiring Managers.

It takes time to practice it though 🙈

Being a UX Designer, it’s my job to make quick and well-thought (Already contradicting 😂) design decisions while crafting an interface. It’s our need to save time by quickly checking our notifications, quickly have our food and water, quickly reach office, quickly reply to our messages. But, have you ever tried to ignore your notifications and enjoy the moment? Have you ever tried to enjoy the flavor and fragrance of your food🥘? Have you ever tried to wake up early in the morning, finish your morning chores, and reach office on time without any hurry? Again, we can’t afford to sit and do everything patiently, but managing our time in a better way, making calculated decisions, worrying too much about what’s coming up next can help all of us :)

Our generation needs everything quick — internet speed, job email response, a girl’s reply for a proposal, and what not? We’ve almost lost our patience & inculcated the quality of worrying too much. With the speed comes FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), it’s very common these days. There’s a ton of new things happening around us that are sourced by social media and news. It mostly happens with lower satisfaction in our lives which triggers us to find something happy or engaging online. This thing is going crazy, I literally found a social marketing company called Fomo using this technique to increase sales 🤣. It’s funny at the same time scary to think about how companies can manipulate our human behaviors to buy something online or spend more time on their sites. Its always good to take a step back and think mindfully.

Next comes the knight “Overthinking!” We all are very conscious of our social and online presence nowadays. When don't stop thinking and re-evaluating our actions and reactions, it can interfere with our quality of life. This is usually the result of increased anxiety (A mental state characterized by feelings of worry or panic). It happens when we mainly engage with all possible ‘what-ifs’ of a particular situation, and we end up thinking for hours and hours but still unable to come to a conclusion. When we run through a chain of thoughts, again and again, we eventually develop stress and depression which also leads to bad sleep quality. Moderate-thinking (I just made that up 🤪) sometimes helps designers to find out all the possible edge cases by running through every use case. But, this does not hurt our mental state very much because the thinking isn’t related to us but the product which we are building.

Speaking of work, I usually check if any new messages or email pops-up. If there are any quick actionables, I’ll do it immediately by transferring the relevant link to my computer. As I get away from work to finish a quick task, I get redirected into a chain of links. I will unknowingly spend like an hour or something reading, watching some other content relevant to design or technology. If we look into this, I’ve lost my attention to work and got carried away by other carefully crafted content intended to grab user’s attention. I decided to control my eagerness to check out those links by simply making a list of links to come back and check em out later. This kind of tipping point to procrastinate any of my tasks. I simply would paste the link or write the task to be done on the list and work on something else. But yeah, I’m not trying to control this thing these days by finishing small tasks instantly without getting distracted from other online content.

Some facts,

  • A review by academics from Oxford, King’s College London, Harvard, and Western Sydney University, found the limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the internet encourages us towards constantly holding divided attention — which then in-turn may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task.”
  • The endless stream of notifications and digital distractions were found to be physically influencing the brain, with those affected showing less grey matter in the cerebral areas associated with maintaining focus.
  • Other studies showed that the internet was also deceiving people into thinking they were smarter than they are as they “blurred the lines” between their own memories and what they can easily look up on ever-present smartphones.
  • Research shows overthinkers believe they’re helping themselves by rehashing their problems in their heads. But studies show analysis paralysis is real. If you’re an overthinker, you likely already know you can’t sleep when your mind won’t shut off.
  • Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.
  • Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.
I used the old-school method while planning for this article.

Best practices to combat all the above-mentioned problems,

  • Keep a 📘 notebook and a 🖊 pen to make a quick note of all the information or your thoughts while using the computer, listening to a podcast or any other event. (Digital note-making is not very efficient). This will reduce the cognitive load on your brain as well as your anxiety to remember everything and a fear of forgetting any information.
  • Pomodoro technique 🍅, the technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks (usually 3–5 minutes). After taking 4 sets of 25 min Pomodoro's, take a 15–30-minute long break.
    💻 Chrome extension for your computer: Download
    📲
    Android app: Download
  • Practise Mindfulness (Basically meditation) Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.
    🎵 Free Spotify playlist: Practise now
  • Maintain a Daily Journal, I prefer Notion for it. When you start writing down all your daily learnings, interesting things you’ve explored, mistakes realized it will gradually help you to analyze and keep track of yourself.
    📕 Grab your Free Notion template: Free Template
  • Maintain your action list on your phones with Google’s Tasks app. I will show you my template for making the best use of the app. I used to create different lists with labels like Pending Tasks, Daily Chores, Long-term Pending, Search queries, Work in progress. You can create your own lists and have a productive time. In addition to that, add the Tasks app widget to your home screen to be more effective.
    🎯 [Android] Download Tasks app now: Download link
    🎯 [iOS] Download Tasks app now: Download link
Screenshot of my phone — Tasks app widget
  • Get isolated from online distractions like Ads & other marketing stuff. Use an Adblocker on your browser to stay focused.
    Free & Best Ad Blocker I’ve ever used: Download

Further reading,

  • Mind-blowing facts of Internet usage: Read now
  • Shorter attention spans and bad memory: Read now

Thanks for staying till the end, I’ve honestly expressed what I actually felt about my lifestyle being changed from external and internal influences…

Hope this helps you to gear-up! Feel free to reach out to me on,
🐤 Twitter | 👨‍💼 LinkedIn | 💌 Email

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Product Designer who loves Problem-solving 🧩 Catch-up my Design articles on www.medium.com/@someshdesign and connect with me on www.linkedin.com/in/someshks

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Somesh Kesarla Suresh

Somesh Kesarla Suresh

Product Designer who loves Problem-solving 🧩 Catch-up my Design articles on www.medium.com/@someshdesign and connect with me on www.linkedin.com/in/someshks

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