Information deluge and plummeting attention-spans

O.K., this is not going to be one of those pre-planned and well structured posts; I’m just going to share whatever’s on my mind right now, and that happens to be a topic that’s super personal to me (and which frankly should be to everyone with a smartphone/internet connected device) — information overload.

Our neural synapses, over the course of the preceding million or so years, evolved to process vast amounts of information on survival related stuff (archetypal prey heuristics, location of food and water, and visual data on poisonous plants, … for example) over almost a life-time. And, a life-time, even 10,000 years ago, was measured in decades — around 4 on average, to be precise — which was a plenty of time for memory consolidation processes to kick in and solidify the learned information/behavior.

Here’s the problem — 10,000 years + Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Information Revolution, and gargantuan amounts of Globalization later, our brains find themselves in a place they didn’t evolve to be in, and this causes a number of incompatibilities that wreck havoc on some of the most innate aspects of our species without which we pretty much lose our identities. I’m in particular talking about ATTENTION, or the ability of an individual to expend the it in a meaningful manner. As my rants across years have proved, I am incredibly uncomfortable with the notion of tech industry changing (or hijacking rather) our brains by taking advantage of its plasticity, its hard-wired longings for specific elements (roots of which can be traced back to our evolutionary history) in the environment, and of course, by giving up those super sweet incremental dopamine hits, thereby keeping the ‘attention economy’ chugging.

Here’s a great video talking about what I just wrote (produced by ‘Epipheo’, featuring the dude who wrote the book I reviewed earlier):


As you may have guessed, this is a serious situation. Our brains have been conditioned so well to the internet that many folks are having a hard time disconnecting from it, and this in turn has spawned a bunch of new industries.

Even long time tech insiders, folks who stand to benefit the most from all those ‘eyes glued to the screens,’ have spoken out against their former employers, accusing them of deliberately making their devices and service more addictive (by incessantly incorporating what’s called, “Intermittent Rewards“) in order to increase their quarterly results — not exactly in the illegal territory, but certainly unethical on part of these billion-dollar corporations to pretty much go Pavlovian on us … ffs those fuckers.

But wait, before you throw in the towel and declare defeat, there surely are some silver-linings to the story — Google recently unveiled their plans to enhance “Digital Well-being” of its users on the next version of Android by adding a dashboard to track app usage time, with friendly reminders and grey-scaling option to boot in case your dopamine circuits don’t co-operate. Two prominent Apple investors wrote to the company asking it to adopt more stringent measures to tackle the issue of children being hooked on to their devices and services (except their shitty maps; no one uses Apple Maps). Think-tanks like this are springing up all over the place to spread awareness about how damaging tech can be to not just our mental health, but also physical well-being.

Before I wrap this post up, here are trusted resources if you’re helplessly glued to that slab of glass:

That’s about it, until next time.


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Going Vegan all the way!

This is the guest post that I promised in my last post, in here. This is written by a friend of mine who also happens to be a Health and Fitness aficionado. Enjoy…

The Vegan way!

I think the one thing that went well this year was my relationship with my body. I have never felt this comfortable, this fascinated, and this excited to be myself as I have been for the past few months. Vegan diet has been the driving force behind this transformation!

I posted about this a while ago (in my personal journal) that I was going ‘Raw’. Meaning I would only eat raw foods, like Fruits and vegetables (raw f&v). I kind of kept it up for a few weeks, but then I was at home, where my mother lives; and to make her accept the fact that what they’ve been feeding us, and eating herself, for her entire life, was basically ‘shit’, is a little tough; but I’ve managed.

After my internship ended, I moved (finally), into my own PG (kinda like a Dorm room with much more independence), where I got to make my own food. The problem was that now I had to buy my own food, which was kind of a big deal, because our college is sort of ‘between’ two cities, and it takes a while to get to the city, buy, and then wash all the f&v, every other day, while going to college, working on a startup, and trying to become a web developer, especially during exams. I actually did all that for about three weeks, before I had to admit, the awesomeness I experienced while having those salads, was actually not worth my future, so I had to change. I also started eating boiled stuff like eggs, and potatoes at this point.

The third phase was interesting because it lasted a pretty long time. I would have potatoes (6-7), and eggs (6) everyday, along with a small salad I’d put together. I’d get so hungry, that I’d settle for milk and Parle-G, hoping It’ll be alright, the diet is perfect (It was not, I was was having only about 1100-1200 calories). Adding rice to the equation, was when it started to become a bit normal. Like, the calorie count would easily go toward 2000, which is a healthy place to be (If you’re exercising as regularly as I was). I’d then simply add the potatoes to the rice (plus soya balls), and have just two meals: a bowl of rice, and 6 eggs + salad. This is the part that made it all okay.

“I had oats for breakfast, and soya balls completely replaced potatoes”

The last part that I resorted to was after Demonetization. I basically bought my potatoes, and my eggs, and my fruits and veggies with cash, and suddenly, cash couldn’t be used. So, instead of resorting to chaos, I had to take my tactic to something that wasn’t as bad as cooking something, or eat ready-made food, but good enough to still be healthy. That led me break my one promise: minimize the milk and sugar. I had oats for breakfast, and soya balls completely replaced potatoes. My advice is to not go for oats unless you’re boiling them in water, adding fruits to it, and honey to substitute the sugar.

In closing, what I would say regarding getting healthier is that, it was more difficult to convince other people to stop feeding me ‘shit’ than it was for me to stop eating it myself. I literally had to have a stomach ache for a week before my aunt finally realized that: ‘Chole Puri’ is bad for health; so is rajma, or kheer, or sabzi (the f’up of version of vegetables), or anything that basically comes out of a packet, or has been cooked with oil!

I have developed a love for fresh food, and I cannot comprehend why I ever chose candy over fruits, or even chocolates for that matter. The goodness I feel emanating from the inside is priceless and I’d advice anyone who’s out there hating themselves for how they look or feel: CHANGE YOUR DIET.

Paritosh Mehta.

More resources to check out!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Sheky Rambles and/or the publisher.

All images used are under CC license, unless stated otherwise.


It’s time.

So, I open my browser. Hit up reddit. Fuck around there for a while. And while scrolling, I find a post about Time. The perspective of time.

That got me thinking. Time. It’s something we all have in equal amounts, mathematically at least. 24 hours. One complete rotation of Planet Earth. The one which we currently inhabit.

You feel me?

Last time I posted on this blog was on June 5th, 2016. 106 days have passed since that post. Almost 1/3 of a year. That’s a long time. But it feels like it was just yesterday.

It’s all in the perception, they say.

Time is one of humanity’s greatest fallacy. People say there is always a tomorrow. When I say people, I’m also included. There’s always a tomorrow. We can always get it done someday. Right?

But, what most people don’t realize (and certainly I did not), this habituation of telling to to oneself that there is always a tomorrow creates a neural loop in the brain that fuels the fallacy even more.

As the time goes on, this neural loop only gets stronger and stronger until one loses perspective.

You may feel things look familiar. In fact, they are. That habitual loop is called procrastination. It’s one of Humanity’s greatest curses. The Internet, as useful as it may be, is a massive bottomless pit for the wandering minds.

Procrastination, contrary to most beliefs, is not binary. It’s not like, “This guy procrastinates” and “This guy doesn’t procrastinate”. It’s more of a spectrum.

Reality is, everyone does. Even Elon Musk. The person I admire and so do millions.

Tim Urban of WaitButWhy beautifully explained procrastination and it’s ties to our evolutionary history in his post, way back in 2013. I read that post a week after it was out and at that time I was in my 12th grade. I then had eureka moment of finally cracking the Procrastination puzzle. I thought I had the answer, I thought reading Tim’s post would be the final nail in my procrastination coffin.

As it turns out. There is a difference, a MASSIVE difference in knowing something and deliberately acting on it.

The bottomline is. We all have aspirations. We all have dreams. We all want to advance, grow, develop, *more adjectives*, but our evolutionary circuits make it super hard. Advertising only works to break our resistance and give into temptation.

Signed up for diet plan? Here’s a big fucking billboard, OMG OMG McDonald’s happy hour is on, can’t miss it!

Anyway, the point of the post is not to educate you. In fact, I haven’t even structured the post in such a way. This is more sort of a rant. A rant about Time, Procrastination and Evolution. As brief as it may be, it certainly helped my synapses to offload some cognitive stress.

With that said, there’s more.

Updated my blog’s theme to match my shift in perspective. Less visual, more text.

Internet today is all about grabbing eyeballs. As much as you can, just hold reader’s attention until he clicks on that Ad. Most blog posts (especially sites like BuzzFeed/similar shitty sites) are 90% unrelated pictures/gifs/ads and 10% content (you should be very lucky to find even that).

My inspiration came from one of my favorite blog of all time. Zen habits.

It’s an incredible blog. Clean as fuck. 100% content. Nothing else. It’s the true definition of WYSIWYG.

That’s about it for now.

And, I am not going to make any posting promises.

Abhishek. :3