An article by a researcher who studies stress and coping offers the not-too-surprising observation that, as a society, we are consuming too much media. The piece in Recode is written by Mary E. McNaughton-Cassill, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the author of the book “Mind the Gap: Coping With Stress in the Modern World.”
“Our brains are programmed to pay attention to rapidly changing stimuli,” she writes. “This predilection, which was crucial when survival depended on constantly monitoring the environment, makes it hard for us to ignore 140-character Twitter streams, television shows, social media updates from our friends and families, and even advertising.”
In stressful times, this predilection can become a problem, McNaughton-Cassill writes.
“When disasters occur, when we don’t agree with the politicians in power, or when we become concerned with a pending threat like global warming or economic collapse, scanning, checking and obsessing online can interfere with our mood, and our ability to function,” the article notes.
To address the problem, McNaughton-Cassill suggests treating media consumption as a habit that can be changed if we want to badly enough. “To make lasting changes, people have to consciously create and maintain a plan of action, and may have to pick up new skills along the way,” she writes.
We encourage readers to click on the link to Recode near the top of this story for the details on McNaughton-Cassill’s plan of action.