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Increase Creativity by Cutting Social Media

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Creativity requires huge stores of information to take, mix, and redesign into new ideas. However, the overload of information from the internet and social media leaves people no time to sort and process that information. Social media machine-learning algorithms custom curate information to keep you superficially satisfied and coming back for more.

Don’t get caught in social media’s endless “dopamine-driven feedback loops,” as former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya calls them. Cutaway from the internet noise to give your brain time to think, to assess what you know, and to create something new.

The Problem of Social Media

Social media taps into desires and needs deep-seated in the human brain, overriding rational impulse control, says Tristan Harris, a former product philosopher at Google. He feels that everyone should recognize their vulnerability to the draws of personalized, compulsive technologies. That they should take control by actively curating their own lives by stopping themselves when they find they’re mindlessly scrolling and scanning. 

Researchers have been warning for some time that social media has detrimental effects. Removing social media makes people happier, healthier, and more productive. One study of people confined to the Moroccan desert for a month found that removing social media could improve people’s posture, friendship, and memory. And more importantly, given the time to finally think, to finally confront their own thoughts, people were able to creatively work through major problems and decisions.

Get away from the narcissism-promoting, insomnia-inducing, and empathy-reducing effects of social media, and remember how to think for yourself. Let your gears turn over. Let your mind rest. And let your dopamine receptors recover. As your mind sorts through the masses of information gathered online you’ll become creative once again.

The Social Media Break

Few can afford a one-month “digital detox” in the Moroccan desert. For many, even a week away is a tough call. However, almost everyone can afford to take short breaks from social media to recharge their creative batteries. This could be just a few hours every day, a day every week, or a weekend every month.

For your creative break, force yourself to step away from social media distractions, cutting the internet. If this is hard to do, consider using social media blocking software if necessary. Resist the urge in your first boring moment to look down at your phone.

Resist the urge to simply bow to the social media hive mind. Instead, embrace your own thoughts and consider them critically. Read a real book, and spend the time properly taking in and understanding the information. Watch a movie without turning to your phone at every slightly slow moment. Let your mind relax, recuperate, and make new creative connections.

Skimming the Information Web

Most people don’t read well on the internet; they scan, they hunt, and they pick at bits and pieces of information instead of taking in the whole, never fully understanding what the authors intended. Many people even share articles without finishing them, and without understanding what they share. It’s easy to bounce through links and promises of more information. But if you don’t take the time to learn deeply, it’s hard to apply the information for real use.

Creativity Flowers from Deeply Understood Information

Constantly reading through other people’s comments and opinions doesn’t give you time to think. It doesn’t give you time to form your own uniquely created ideas. But removing yourself from the internet confusion makes the creative process much easier.

Creativity requires that you truly understand your subject. This cannot happen as long as you give in to the endless stream of information provided by Facebook and Google. It requires time to reflect on what you know. You need time to practice what you know. And you need time to work creatively beyond the routine orthodoxy provided by the social media beast.

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