We’re all digital idiots
Our children seem to be the prime targets of digital overload, according to Michel Desmurget, research director at Lyon’s Institut des Sciences Cognitives. But what about adults, asks Desmurget in his latest book, La Fabrique du Crétin Digital?
It’s a question that’s worth asking, especially when it comes to the workplace. Why? Because homo sapiens’ craving for social relations and group life (which progressively shaped the society and organizations we know today) now seem to be turning against us. The most noticeable symptom is probably FOMO, our fear of missing out on information or being excluded (even temporarily) from a group that is engaged in discussion. This feeling of exclusion turn into an almost morbid fear, leading to a need to be constantly connected to social networks.
Of course, this dependence on networks is not necessarily pathological. Nevertheless, regardless of how connected we are, it’s interesting to ask ourselves questions about our own digital use. This is worthwhile because it means we can avoid a situation in which our digital tools — which are supposed to bring us wealth, joy, and greater efficiency — become synonymous with stress and hassle.
We need to bear in mind that our intellectual resources are limited, while the volume of information conveyed by email or on social networks is virtually limitless. Whereas the pursuit of perfection and, especially, precision, comprehensiveness, control, and responsiveness is a valid and intellectually satisfying quest, it can only apply to a finite number of fields of expertise. Only in this limited framework can new information be integrated effectively and enable us to act quickly and accurately.
In other situations, we need to learn to be satisfied with a little guesswork — and set aside time for work, relaxation, and reflection offline, so our brain isn’t sucked in by information that it can’t process.
To go further: La Fabrique du Crétin Digital by Michel Desmurget (Seuil 2019)