Attention Deficit Disorder, iPhones and Existential Dread

bob and doug

I recently learned that goldfish have a better attention span than Canadians…and that the Dutch and Americans are not much better….


Indeed goldfish proficiency at soccer has been elsewhere documented. Cats,as one might expect of a predator, have a span of ten minutes or more. A traditional Inuit hunter could stand at a seal hole for hours transfixed. But they are not really biogentically typical Canadians….


According to the National Post Survey, 44 per cent of respondents said they had to concentrate very hard to stay focused on repetitive tasks, 67 per cent said the only way they can get things done is through multi-tasking and
37 per cent said they were unable to make the best use of their time, forcing them to work late evenings or weekends.

The cause not surprisingly are mobile devices. In Canada, “users are getting increasingly addicted to their mobile devices, suggests a new report released by Google.”

Naturally this requires an analysis. The short attention spans parallel that of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
The biochemistry of the latter centres around a major relay processing centre of the brain known as the reticular formation(RF)….


Now this is essentially an information processor collecting data from the senses. The data then goes to the limbic system to determine if a flight or flight reflex reaction is indicated. If not then the relays continue to the frontal cortex for evaluation by the brain “CEO”. If there is too much incoming data, and particularly if focus is impaired by faulty biochemistry as is the case with ADD, the brain shorts out and becomes easily distracted. Focus is gone.

In addition if the RF filter is overloaded sleepiness sets in as the brain decompensates. This is why ADD kids fidget. They are trying to stay awake. Adults get bored instead. This cannot be sustained for long, as it is a distraction-free state which soon enough reveals underlying unpalatable existential truths-our insignificance, our meaningless existence, our inexorable progression to deterioration and death. Not a healthy situation. And so stimulus has to be sought as a counterphobic death response. Enter the iPhone.

Now the question is why are Canadians so easily afflicted? This appears to be because we are techno geeks augmented by the suffering imposed by cabin fever for 6 months of the year. The human nervous system thrives on incoming data, eg when people invented the car it was novel. The thought of having an entertainment device in the car was ridiculous because the car itself was the entertainment.

After a while, travelling for 5 hours at a time, you’d had enough of it. The brain is bored. You put radios in the car and maybe video displays. Boredom of course leads to existential anxiety and the aforementioned death fear. So frantic stimulus seeking needs to be sought out. Enter the iPhone again.

The treatment of ADD involves the use of stimulants like amphetamines to reverse the biochemical glitch in the RF. Caffeine works in a similar fashion. Indeed Canadians are addicted to this popular stimulant.

Nootropic drugs like Piracetam can do a similar job. They increase concentration, memory, attention span, combat sleep fatigue, and—in some cases—make the brain more efficient. Like grease for one’s cognitive gears—”a synaptic lubricant that normally healthy people are taking to operate at optimal levels of clarity, stamina, and focus.”

Ritalin without the side effects. The latter works on the RF biochemistry and makes the filter work better. Piracetam is a psychic energizer and nobody really is certain how it works. So instead of entering a mobile device detox we can compensate neurochemically.

Better living through pharmacology. The ancient Hindus correctly predicted this next phase of our evolution….


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One Response to “Attention Deficit Disorder, iPhones and Existential Dread”

  1. kristina nadreau says:


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