Too Much Information

The internet is a great invention. There is literally nothing that you can’t find out via the world wide web in a matter of seconds and I quite like the fact that I can do my shopping online while wearing my rollers and tea-stained nightie. This means that I don’t have to put myself through the sensory nightmare of crowded supermarkets. I also like how I can keep in touch with people without having to physically write because I HATE writing. However, there is a downside to the internet and that is INFORMATION OVERLOAD.

The accurate term is ‘Cognitive Overload’.

Our brains are designed to take in lots of information but it seems that technology is moving way too fast for our brains to keep up. Cognitive overload can lead to stress and for sensitive people, like myself, it can make you PROPER CRANKY.

Wandering around a bookstore the other week, yes ACTUAL BOOKS, I was amazed (not) at how many relaxation/meditation books there are now with authors urging us to ‘unplug’ and simplify our lives. I came away with a book called, ‘Unplugged’. I was attracted to it because I was overwhelmed. After a four month hiatus from debilitating anxiety, I was hurtling towards burnout stage faster than a seagull after a Harry Ramsden chip on Blackpool pier..

One night I sat up in bed watching the hours crawl by (AGAIN) and I told myself that I would do whatever it took to get myself back to generally insanity, as opposed to ‘AM LOSING IT, DOC’ – insanity.

I realised that the internet is both friend and foe and that my use of technology was taking up the majority of my day, in one form or another. The first thing I did was to put an ‘out of office’ message on my Twitter. I normally just disappear for a few weeks but this time I felt obliged to inform the world of my absence. I suspect many may be praying that I don’t return ha ha.

The thing about Twitter is the volume of information in one hit. It’s a real emotional roller-coaster. On top of this emotional baggery is the news of the day – fires, terrorism, deaths, politics and Trump being a dick. It is an PHENOMENAL amount of information. The brain then has to trawl it’s way through the quagmire of info and somehow make sense of it. Is it any wonder that my dreams have been psychotic, if the last thing at night I am reading is this lot?

I’ve adjusted the brightness on my phone and enabled the night-setting. On my Kindle, I have changed my font to white on a black background which is easier on the eyes. I also make sure that I don’t have my phone by my bedside at night. If it’s there, it’s too easy to open it up and check in with the world because I will be gutted if I miss that Instagram pic of somebody’s ingrowing toenail, eh?

There is also evidence to suggest that Wifi signals emitted from phones and gadgets next to your bed can interfere with your quality of sleep, so if you are sleeping poorly and you charge your gadgets next to your bed, or worse, sleep with them under your pillow – it might be an idea to remove them from your room and see if your sleep improves? Why people sleep with their phones under their pillows is beyond me. Vibrating phones in pockets, I get. But pillows? No.

Its not the technology itself that is making me ill, well, maybe it is when it comes to migraines. It’s more to do with the amount of exposure I am getting and that choice is mine. Nobody forces me to check Twitter or look at pictures of somebody’s pie and chips on Instagram. It’s me.

I knew the amount of information I exposed myself to was hurting me. I was incredibly stressed out and needed to do something before I got back into breakdown territory. I couldn’t go back there again. NO FLIPPING WAY, HOSE!

So, I experimented..

The Experiment: To See If Using Electronics Less Improves Stress and Sleep

Monday

Kindle – 2 and 1/2 hours

Internet – 1/2 hour (e mails)

Instagram – 1 hour

Total = 4 hours

Sleep – 1am until 6am.

Reason I was so late was because ah wes watchin Catherine Cookson on telly an ‘ah forgot abyeut the time. It turk us an hoor tuh git tur sleep, pet. :/

Quality of was sleep improved.

Dreams not exactly sweet but nowhere near as funky.

Tuesday

Internet (e mails & blog) 1 hour 5 mins

Kindle (three hours)

Instagram 30 mins

Total = 4 hours 35 mins

Sleep -10pm until 7am

Woke up a few times in-between but not enough for it to be a problem. Dreams improved.

Wednesday

Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins

Kindle – 4 hours

Instagram 30 mins

Sleep – 12am- 7.30am

I struggled to get off to sleep, probably because I’d watched another strife ridden Cathy Cookson before bed. I tossed about for a couple of hours but once asleep I pretty much stayed asleep. I had one of my reoccurring dreams where I buy the house where I was born, only it’s a lot bigger than it actually was/is. Also, it’s part house/part social club where you access the magical world of darts, pool and beer via the loft? No. I have no idea where it’s come from either. A pleasant addition to this particular version of the dream was that my parents were in it. My DEAD parents. Only, Dad was telling me I would have to get rid of some of my books.

WHAT?!

That one is easy enough to decipher because we need a new book case as I have too many books! Actually, what am I saying? You can NEVER have too many books!

Thursday

Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins

Kindle 4 hours

Instagram 15 mins

Sleep – 11pm until 7am.

I had a few dodgy dreams but the one thing I did differently was to read my Kindle until 9.30 pm. *slaps wrist*

Friday

Internet (e mails, blog)  1 hour

Kindle 4 hours

Instagram 10 mins

Sleep = 10pm – 6.45 am

Dreams were NON ANXIETY and representative of what I had done that day.

Saturday

Went on electronics for hours on end to see if it was, like, a placebo effect.

It wasn’t.

I was wired all day and struggled to sleep at night. Stephen King was writing my dreams again and I awake from 5am on Sunday morning feeling like I’d been steam-rollered.

Conclusion

The evidence strongly suggests that my use of technology IS affecting my anxiety, sleep and general well-being and by making a few teensy adjustments I have improved things significantly and I have to admit that I feel better for it.

When it comes to dreams, my brain was starting to decipher actual things in my life instead of random rubbish via the internet and because I was getting more restful sleep, my body was feeling more refreshed on waking. I may not been Julie Andrews first thing but I wasn’t the total Mumzilla, either. I had more energy and my short-term memory was less shit. It was by no means a cure but it was a good enough improvement for me to consider spending less time on electronics for the foreseeable.

If you spend a lot of time on computers and stuff and are struggling with anxiety or sleep, maybe it’s time you unplugged?

Disconnect from technology to reconnect with yourself.

 

 

 

The Decade That Spawned Me ~ Technology

I feel fortunate to have been born in the 70s because it was a decade of relative simplicity and family. Then along came the 80s with it’s affordable electronics and the cracks started to appear in family life and, well, it’s all gone a bit shit.

The chart topping ‘Video killed The Radio Star’ was released in 1979. The song promoted technology but also warned of it’s effects…

Video_Killed_the_Radio_Star_single_cover

Oh a oh!

At the start of the 70s it was very much about family as highlighted in the six part series, Back In Time For The Weekend where the Ashby-Hawkins family, having experienced life from the 1950s through to the 2000s, said that the 70s had the ‘perfect balance’ of convenience and family values before households were ‘splintered’ by technology.

I agree and I should know because I was there, flares and everything.

When it came to entertaining ourselves, we had to be imaginative. My brother and I were dressed, fed and turfed out during weekends and holidays with orders not to return until dinner time. Mum wasn’t being neglectful, it was simply the era’s ‘no shit approach’ to parenting and it was no bad thing because we were out in the fresh air, keeping fit and making memories. I can’t help but wonder if children today will remember the hours spent hunched over their mobile phones with the same level of nostalgia?

‘remMbR dat tym we wer @ McDonalds & we wer aL on our phones @ d sAm tym txtN Ech other?’

Can’t see it myself.

We did stuff. We made tents out of BED SHEETS and you know how parents spend trillions of pounds on electronic paraphernalia for kids today? Well we made skipping ropes out of old washing lines. HARD PLASTIC washing lines that hurt like buggery when they whacked you on the back of the legs. Can you imagine handing kids today an old washing line to play with? They’d probably stand there trying to work where to plug it in, no?

Today’s kids are about ALL about technology and The Boy is no different. He has the electronic devices and his DS is invaluable when it comes to distraction when we’re out and about. However, I’m an old fart who knows the importance of things that don’t require batteries (or a socket) so he has plenty of stuff that only requires imagination and no matter what you’ve heard, autistic children do have an imagination.

When it comes to ‘gaming’, in the 70s, we had ‘Pong’.

Pong

Obviously by today’s standards, it’s shit, but in my day it was cutting edge stuff. We had it on a console and we’d play it if the weather was bad enough (torrential rain, blizzards etc) to keep us in but the constant BLIP-BLIP-BLIP did Mum’s head in and it often went missing for weeks on end. Fancy?!

Thursdays was Top of the Pops night. We had Jimmy saVILE and the other deviants masquerading as DJs entertaining us in our front room. Urgh. Where are the Men in Black with their neuralyzers?

Also, GET THIS. Our TV had THREE channels and our telly had two remotes – me and my brother. We were fitter in those days, if nothing else..

Children’s TV accounted for all of about two hours a day and most programmes were crap. Like Pipkins. Pipkins was crap but it was addictive crap. Hartley Hare always looked like he had a bad case of Mixi, to me. I mean, LOOK AT HIM!

Somebody put it out of it’s misery ffs…

My own family has been seduced by technology. I SWORE I’d never have a Kindle. I SCOFFED at the idea of an electronic book but then OH beguiled me with the convenience of being able to buy a book whilst wearing my rollers and a flannelette nightie and I was like, ‘How soon can I have one?’

The experience of living in the 70s for the TV show changed Steph Ashby’s relationship with technology because she could see the impact that it had on family life and as a result took steps to use technology more selectively. Her daughter quit Facebook (yeah, right) and the entire family reduced their time on social media.

What I’ve taken away from that is that it’s the time spent with people that is really important and making sure that we don’t let things like technology get in the way.

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Mrs, and I will do my utmost to ensure my family do not become total slaves to technology. However, maybe it’s the case that…

We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far.