Thinking deeply about the impact of social media

I was just reading that when people know that they'll be able to find information online easily, they're less likely to form a memory of it. That is a little scary if you think about it and looking around I wonder if the constant FB and instagram sharing is taking away from our real juicy, memorable moments and memories. They say that the more distracted you are -- the more your train of thought is interrupted -- the less able you are to experience empathy. So distractions could make it more difficult for us to experience deep emotions.

Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain is plastic, meaning that it's very malleable or adaptable. Our brains are constantly adapting at a physical level to our environment. You can imagine that what's really changed our environment in the past 10 or 20 years is the Internet and social media.

A lot of people will assume that if our brains can adapt, then our brains will adapt to the flow of information and all will be well. But what you have to understand about neuroplasticity is that the process of adaptation doesn't necessarily leave you a better thinker. It may leave you a more shallow thinker.

What concerns me, is the ease with which we adapt that makes me most nervous. It doesn't take long for someone to get used to glancing at their smartphone 200 times a day. We're creatures of habit mentally and physically. When you develop that habit of distraction, it becomes harder and harder to back away and engage our minds in deeper modes of thinking.

Good news is that you can use the technology less and set aside your phone and spend a good part of your day trying to maintain your focus and not be interrupted. The good thing about that -- because of the plasticity of our brains -- is that if you change your habits, your brain is happy to go along with whatever you do.