These are not your thoughts, time flies because we already spend almost a quarter of the day “scrolling” on the Internet | technology

Time is not absolute. It is the phrase most attributed to Albert Einstein, that he never lived an experiment scroll On the Internet and completely lose hours and minutes. the report Rolling State in 2022 He says that in Spain we spend, on average, five hours sucking, with our necks bent, and dragging our fingers across the screen. An activity that, according to the latest research in neuroscience, changes our perception of time as we feel it slipping from our hands, without remembering, after a few hours, what we have invested in it.

Created by engineer Azza Raskin scroll Infinite in 2006. In 2018, he was guilty and repentant in a BBC interview because his invention was “a very addictive dynamic that doesn’t allow the user to process the information they’re reading. It’s like they’re spraying behavioral cocaine all over the interface,” he said then. That’s why we forget almost everything. We examine but do not read, we see but do not look, we hear but hardly listen. And time does its job, and it goes on.

The hours pass differently when we surf the internet. That’s the conclusion of the studies of Peter Tse, professor of cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College. “Research in my lab shows that events seem to last longer when we pay close attention to them. This is because the brain does not have a clock to measure time and judge by the information it has processed. When we pay attention, we process more information per unit of time,” he explains via email. From a long flight from New Zealand to Los Angeles. The professor illustrates his idea with an example: “If we are about to collide with a car from behind and cause an accident, we feel that events pass before our eyes in slow motion. This happens because we are alert, pay more attention, and process more information than if we were relaxed or distracted.

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His first study on time perception was from 2004, three years before the iPhone and two before scroll No final. So he focused his research on novelty, another circumstance that alters our idea of ​​time. There is a temporal perception based on memory. We tend to accumulate more information and feel that time passes more slowly when we do something new. The memory of routine activities, for example, changing a baby’s diaper every day, fades very quickly. For this reason, although we remember that the first days of raising our children were long and tiring, looking back, it seems to us that they grew very quickly.

The professor believes this illustrates the role that lack of novelty plays in our perception of the passage of time. If things don’t happen and we don’t pay attention, everything seems to pass quickly. “In hindsight, we will only recall experiences that are distinctly jarring, new, and exciting, and routine tends to fade quickly,” he says. Another piece of the puzzle is the attention we give to the passage of time itself. The last minute before the washing machine stops will, as we well know, always be the longest of the day.

What happens to us on the Internet is a combination of all of this. “We can be very engaged in a video game, and at that moment realize that time is passing slowly, but because we are not looking at the clock and many of our actions are repetitive, our memory will tell us, in retrospect, that the game passed very quickly.” Our Instagram promises us a barrage of news every minute, but let’s go step by step. story to another person without paying attention because they are all so similar. We hardly remember anything. an experience scroll It is almost always the same. One day yes and another day too.

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The acclaimed work, published in 2015, was the first to show how little we despise our daily screen time. So the authors calculated that our perception of time spent scrolling was 20% underestimated. Eight years later, other researchers think that number may be even lower. Subsequent studies have explored altered time perception in video games and on Facebook. Social worker Andrew Fishman’s measurements with a time estimation exercise with minors with video game addiction problems estimate that children play three to five times more than they think.

If the scrolling experience is almost always the same, there are a few new things to remember, and once we pay attention, we’re faced with the perfect formula for time to slip through our hands.

Philip Gable, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware, has shown in his experiments that when we get excited, time seems to fly. “Scrolling is easy, it takes no effort, it is designed so that we move without thinking for hours and hours, the promise of finding something new is what motivates us to keep going, but the reality is different, what we find is always the same, boring, emotionless, and hardly remembered. There is Too much information to categorize so that we don’t remember what we leave behind. There’s no reason to do that.”

For Professor Tse, the problem with spending hours on the Internet is that the more time we devote to “virtual occupations”, the more problems we have to manage our real time, build personal relationships, or spend time in nature. “Social psychology has shown that the most rewarding thing in life is connection. To a person, to a job, to a place. And real connections are made through caring. There are no shortcuts. With stronger bonds, we’ll start to get social rewards from people.” real instead of fake likes and rewards from people online we barely know.”

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Almost anything is better than not realizing the time we’re wasting, says Professor Gable, who agrees to use timers, alarms, and private phone stats to at least know the hours we’re dedicating to them. scroll Without ordering or prom.

In the war for attention we will be the biggest losers if we continue to give our hours to wandering, the dopamine slaves who provide us with small doses of stimulation from the Internet. It’s better to take back control and decide where we spend our time and where we look for our well-deserved shot of fun. And not in small doses.

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