What would happen if you skipped social media for 30 days? A lot of people think that social media is mostly about wasting time, but while it does use up a lot of time, there's a whole lot more to it that we're going to talk about.
In North America. They use a little bit more than two hours a day on social media. South America is almost 3.5 hours. Africa is over three hours. Europe's an hour 15 and Asia is a little over two hours. On average in the world, we spend two hours 25 minutes per day on social media, which is about one hour more than eight years ago. In recent years. They've found that the more social media people use, the more they have problems with stress, they have anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts. They have a loss of self-esteem. Because a lot of social media is all about validating yourself through comparison and posting the right pictures and getting thumbs up and likes. And even though people are going on to feel valued and pursue friends, they end up actually feeling more lonely and more isolated.
And maybe the biggest problem that we're going to talk about is a loss of focus. The driving force on social media is the "magic of maybe". So it's kind of like a slot machine which is one of those gambling devices called One-armed bandit. And it is the probability of a win that you don't get it every time and it's not a regular interval, it's intermittent and sort of unexpected. Then when you get it. When you look that maybe there is a new text, maybe there is a new like, maybe there is a new heart, maybe there's something interesting or fun. Then once we hit that positive note, there is a 400% rise in dopamine which is our pleasure, are habit-forming pleasure neurotransmitter, and that 400% raise isn't quite the same as cocaine but it's pretty close. But whatever we might think about the internet and phones and social media, they started out with good intentions, it was about communication information and making it all more convenient.
But then as it grew they figured out that there was money to be made and now they started competing for your time, they started developing algorithms to make you spend more time on their platform because if they could get you to spend more time they could sell more Ads and they could increase their profits. And now these companies developed and hired attention engineers and these were people who specialized in developing maximum addiction on purpose. So they studied addiction, they studied neurology, they studied endocrinology, they studied gambling behaviors and they tried to incorporate as many of those factors of those addictive factors as possible on purpose to get people to spend more time and actually get addicted to these social platforms. So what we have to understand though is that there's still something good underneath all of this. It's not all bad, but you can use the internet and use social media as a tool or if you don't pay attention, if you're not careful then you become the tool.
We have to start understanding how that world is affecting our physiology and our bodies. The world has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in the previous 50,000. We have foods we have never eaten before. We have processed foods, we have sugar, we have depleted food, we have GMOs, we have pollution and pesticides that the body never encountered before. We have a level of stress and a pace and hectic life we never had before. And technology is kind of a double-edged sword. It helps us in many ways become more productive and become very convenient. But at the same time, it sort of adds to the burden as well because there's more to keep up with and we have to adapt to this high pace. And what we have to keep in mind with these fast changes in your DNA can't keep up. Your DNA, your genome, your genetic material changes At the rate of tens of thousands of years to make significant changes. So what's happened in the last 50 years, your body has no chance to keep up with that.
The other thing we have to keep in mind is that whatever your experience is, whatever food produces hormones, whatever pollution does to you, Whatever stress and technology do to you, it is your brain that processes all of it. So there's a big discussion going on about social media and how people are feeling different and they're kind of looking just at human behavior in the short term. But the bigger question that we have to ask is if we understand that the brain processes all of this and social media change our health and our behavior. How is social media creating those brain changes? when they talk about addiction, they usually make a differentiation between behavioral addictions and substance addictions.
So everything on the table here would be substance addictions like alcohol and cigarettes and morphine and so forth. But behavioral that's more like sexual addiction and gambling and now social media, it's a behavioral change. However, what we have to realize is that in the brain the changes are very similar. Behavior or the substance, they act very much the same way in the long run. And what they have found is that it produces a degeneration in certain areas in the brain and those are the ones responsible for attention and focus when you have your attention, you have your focus on certain things. It's because you have the ability to filter other things and we'll come back and talk about that and these centers these brain areas also are controlling emotion and decision making.
So we'll come back to this and a lot of this is about the frontal lobe, the executive center of the brain. Why is it so critical? Why do we want to go that extra step and talk about mechanisms? Because of this addictive behavior, these are things that we know we should change. Another thing that people try to change is their weight and their eating behavior. Everyone says that should eat less. How is that working? Because if all you try to do is eat less, you will ultimately fail and that's what we're seeing over and over. Because first, we have to understand that different foods produce different hormonal responses, and these hormones determined behavior and over time this behavior and this food will create disease. But if we don't understand the mechanism and we know the consequence, then we're not going to get motivated enough to make changes. But once we understand how we can change the foods make other hormones and now we have some power.
The exact same thing is going on with social media. It's just that we're consuming video, we're consuming bits of data instead of food. So if you're addicted but you say I'm going to try to spend less time. That is probably not going to be very effective because social media are creating these brain changes that lead to addiction, which lead to these mental and physical health problems. But because of these brain changes just like with the hormones you are not in complete control, you have to step back and get some motivation and some distance to this. So you understand the consequences and the mechanism. Then you have a chance to do something about it.
Now to really understand how these social media devices, how these electronic devices affect the brain. We have to understand a little bit more about the brain and the purpose of the brain, how the brain works, how the brain gets programmed. So the purpose of the brain is to interact with our environment and to do that. We have to be adaptable and we have to be flexible. Humans can exist in the largest number of environments of any species. We are so incredibly adaptive because we have the most flexible, the most complex brain of any living thing and most of that interaction with our environment also relates to movement. We can move about in our environment and create habitats and find food.
Now awareness is the ability to perceive things to interpret, to respond to your environment, and interact with it to be aware of it first. Unicellular, this is a single cell and it does have some awareness. It does have some ability to interpret and process and interact with its environment. But it's very limited. Because its sensory apparatus is very primitive and has a very small surface area. Now if we just multiply that a few times. We get a multicellular life form, it's still very primitive. But assuming that these cells can communicate that they have the ability to interact with each other. And also to cooperate to move toward a common goal toward a higher purpose. Now, this life form with four cells can start to express a more complex, slightly more complex behavior than the single cell. And in doing that it has expanded its awareness it can do more stuff and that leads us to the human brain which is arguably the most complex structure in the known universe.
The brain is housed inside the skull and the extension of the brain is the spinal cord and together they form the central nervous system And which contains about 100 billion neurons. Your body totally has about 40 trillion cells and they all communicate indirectly. But the brain and central nervous system are what ties together all that communication. Without that communication, you would just be a bunch of cells. But with that coordinating action, you are a community that can work towards a common goal. Each of these 100 billion neurons, just don't link together in a loop. They make an incredibly complex network. They each make about 5-10,000 Connections or synapses on average and there are some cells in the small brain and the cerebellum that make about 200,000 connections per cell. All of these connections add up to your neural networks.
Now if we can increase and maintain that complexity, all those connections. If we can maintain that interconnectedness that strong connection. Then we're also going to increase the metabolic threshold. The ability of these cells to perform work and that's going to create stability and robustness. And what does that do? It is the very property is the strength that lets you be resilient and withstand stress and anxiety and trauma and so forth.
So then of course the question is how do we improve and maintain all of these five factors to build ourselves a strong brain. And the answer is we want to create multiple inputs for the brain. So if you're out like this guy hiking then there is a principle called Hebb's Law that says that cells that fire together, wire together. So this guy is involved in something called spatial summation and what that means is he's getting input from many different directions and that provides some context for what he's doing. He has gravity as muscle tone, he has moved, he has temperature, he has heard and all of these different inputs provide a context that gets wired together in a very complex network.
So we have the visual input the movement, gravity, stretch, sound, it all gets wired in. And now we get this very complex wiring that gets strengthened the more we use it into this robust and resilient brain. And the more of these cells and the more of these connections we have, we also have an increased and expanded awareness and increased ability to take in the environment and process that information. And the opposite of that would be spatial subtraction. Now that's not a real thing, the spatial summation is a real neurological term but I made this one up to illustrate the difference between that complex hiking behavior and what happens when you're sitting down with an electronic device. So things like games and cell phones and social media and basically all electronic devices with a very narrow focus do this. So what happens now is you have a very fast-changing, very interesting, very intense visual input. So you're activating certain areas in your brain related to visual input but there is no change in the environment. The environment doesn't match what's going on with the visual input.
So you don't get that complex wiring instead you get a very incomplete wiring of the brain and as a result, the more limited your wiring. The more you focus on one aspect without getting that matching input. The more you get a shrinking perception and consciousness. You are less able to experience life because of your condition and programming your brain to function primarily on electronic devices. So I grew up with Mario Brothers and Nintendo and I quickly became pretty addicted. I loved those games but I stopped. Because after I had sat down for a few hours and I got that tunnel vision and I stood up and I was all dazed and confused. I got scared. I realized that this is very dangerous to the brain. This was long before I had any training in this specific brain stuff. But I understood that this can't be good and if something is that addictive and it makes me feel that way and I have the tendency to become that addicted then I just can't do that at all.
But now you might ask, what about 20 minutes, would that be okay? If you do this in 20 minutes once in a while. and here's the thing to understand it's all about balancing that. Which do you do more of If you move more in a three-dimensional world and get that complex input and you're getting five or 10 times more of that? Then you do the limited electronic device input then the complex input is going to override the narrow input. But the way we're doing it today with most people and the addictive nature, we are getting way more electronic time than we are time out in the real world.
Now we have an absolute epidemic of poor attention span and when we have the poor attention span, short attention span. Then the people who are trying to get our attention have to go to new lengths. So they know how to increase the stimuli, that's why Movies and TV and advertising look so different than they did 20,30, 40 years ago. Now you have to create sounds, you have to change the angles, you have to zoom in and out, You have to edit things with two-second clips, you have to keep things moving. Because if something stays the same for five seconds, people have lost their attention already.
But then when they keep stimulating you more, when they're using all their tricks, then your attention span gets even worse. Because they can't get your attention. It's like you get worse. They have to get more inventive, they have to come up with stronger stimuli. So this becomes a vicious cycle that the better they become at getting your attention, the worse your attention gets. And then eventually you can't create attention on your own. If your life depended on it.
And I think this is a bigger problem than most people realize that we no longer have the ability to sit still. We get restless, we get nervous, we get bored, we feel really bad. If we just have to sit for even a minute, if there is peace and quiet, if there are none of these stimuli interrupting us, we get anxious. We don't know what to do. We don't know how to create focus and we lose that ability to focus and we even lose the ability to think. Whenever we're left to our own thoughts we look for something to interrupt it. We don't know how to maintain a stream of thought, of constructive thought, and evolve that thought. We're just looking for something to stimulate us to interrupt that quiet moment.
And one way this shows up in my world. There are so many people who want short videos. They want quick sound bites. They just want the bullet list. But that doesn't leave them any wiser. That doesn't leave them any better off. Because they get the list and then they compared to another list that says something else and now they're more confused than ever. Another thing that they do is of course they watch it at a higher speed. They speed it up to 1.5 times or 2 times the speed. Because they feel that if they can just listen and catch the words then they've watched the video.
Here's the problem though. It doesn't make an impact on your brain. It doesn't create a complex network. It doesn't integrate into your nervous system unless you can process and think about the information. And you can do that while you're watching. But You can't do that if you speed it up to 2x. But if it is a good paste and you can keep up and sort of process that information while you're watching, then it has a lasting impact. Because you have integrated it into your nervous system. It's the same way that's the difference between watching a quick video or reading a book. Reading a book forces you to use your brain in a different way, to engage more areas of your brain. You have to follow the lines in a very precise manner. You have to visualize, you have to create images in your brain. It's much more activating to read a book than just watch a movie or something like that.
When they were talking about brain areas that degenerated and resulted in less focus, less ability to regulate emotions and make good decisions. They were talking about the frontal lobe. Because the frontal lobe is also known as the executive center, it's the center for executive function. Everything that makes us human and the way humans are different from other species is about the frontal lobe. And this helps us set better goals, make better decisions, it helps us plan and sustained focus. How does it do that? It does it by turning off things that are not important, 90% of what the frontal lobe does is to turn things off. It turns off distraction, it turns off stress, it turns off anxiety and that's why people with a strong brain with a high metabolic threshold with endurance. That's why they tolerate distractions and stress and anxiety much better. It rarely affects them.
And social media does the exact opposite of everything. Social media fragments attention. It's designed to keep you unfocused so that you will click on the next thing they flash on your screen. If you do that long enough it has the ability to permanently damage the ability to focus. So if you got to age 25 before you ever saw a cellphone you're much better off. Because your brain was hopefully built to a certain strength at that point. But what if you get cell phones at this age as a 2,3,4-year-old then you may never even develop that healthy brain with good integration and complex networks.
Alcohol, tobacco, cocaine addictive substances. They are restricted because we understand the consequences. But social media may be just as destructive. In a slightly different way especially if we keep it up. Because people understand to stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and addictive substances. So they might use them once in a while or not at all. But we don't understand that about social media and electronic devices. So we use electronic devices as pacifiers and babysitters. We use them as digital companions instead of friends. For the first time in history, we have artificial digital companions. If the average is 2.5 hours per day, there are some that hardly use it at all and others that spend most of their day on these devices.
Again most of the discussion is about how is this affecting the quality of life short term, how is it affecting how people feel? But I really want to emphasize. We want to take it to the next level. We want to ask what is this doing if we have an incomplete brain, if we either breaking down the brain or if we're not building it properly in the first place, what is that going to do 30, 40 years down the road? And I really hope I'm wrong. But I think What we're seeing isn't even the tip of the iceberg.
Now, if you quit social media and electronic devices for 30 days, what will happen? You probably see improved mood, improved tension. You might even see improved thinking skills. If you spend some time with yourself and you force your brain to do things that it hasn't done in a while like thinking. You'll probably see some improved productivity as a result of improved focus and attention and better thinking skills. And you might even see some improved self-esteem depending on how you've been using social media in the past. And you might appreciate your life more in your quality of life when you find you have extra time for things that really matter.
There's been a lot of research and there have been books written on this topic. As a result, thousands of people have taken the challenge of putting away their phones and their social media and they noticed a dramatic improvement in their quality of life, About half of them have noticed dramatic improvements. So does that mean I think you should quit social media that they're a bad thing, that cell phones are bad? No, I don't think that at all. I think it's a fantastic tool. But you have to understand, you have to learn to use it as a tool or you become the tool, you become someone else's tool.
So if you decide to quit for a period that's fine. But if you don't, I want you to be aware and mindful. Really be honest and examined step back and before you pick it up. Don't just mindlessly start clicking things. Examine what's your purpose. Why am I doing this? Is this really adding value to me in any way? There are some platforms that can help you further your career if you use them for that and nothing else. I love to travel with my cell phone, it gets me directions. It tells me where the traffic jams are. It saves me time if I'm traveling, I have flight reservations, hotel reservations, car rental reservations. It's all in one place. It's very convenient, right? And you can also use it for many different things. As long as you don't let yourself mindlessly fall into that endless pit of social media. Thanks for reading.