A deficit in consciousness

Technology may be seductive, but it doesn’t have to leave us ADIC-ted.

Elizabeth Carlton
4 min readFeb 17, 2024

Technology is rewiring our brains. It’s not a new revelation, nor has it become any less controversial. But science tells us that the white glow of our screens is carving new neural pathways into our organic CPUs, and it’s a double-edged sword.

Potential harmful effects of extensive screen time and technology use include heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addiction, social isolation, impaired brain development, and disrupted sleep. However, various apps, videogames, and other online tools may benefit brain health. Functional imaging scans show that internet-naive older adults who learn to search online show significant increases in brain neural activity during simulated internet searches. Certain computer programs and videogames may improve memory, multitasking skills, fluid intelligence, and other cognitive abilities. Some apps and digital tools offer mental health interventions providing self-management, monitoring, skills training, and other interventions that may improve mood and behavior.

- Brain health consequences of digital technology use (22 June 2020)

I’m not here to paint technology as the enemy. Like any tool, it is not inherently good or evil. It simply exists. How we use it determines whether that existence is to our benefit or detriment.

But there is an addictive quality to our social media feeds, video games, and other technological gizmos. I’ve straddled the worlds that existed before and after the rise of advanced consumer technology. From wired car phones and the screeching cry of dial-up internet to having a clever computer small enough to fit into our pockets, the evolution has been swift and remarkable.

But so has its allure, especially after social media appeared on the scene. It offered a new social arena; one that would take the entire world by storm. So much of our social interaction became encapsulated in an intangible, digital realm. To the point where it’s creating a deficit in consciousness.

By being so plugged in, we’ve detached ourselves from life in our tangible world. Recent data shows that people clock an average of 7 hours of screen time per day. Gen Z raises the bar even further with an average of 9 hours of screen time per day (source).

From work and education to entertainment and social engagement, we experience so much of life through a screen, to the point where it feels very much like an epidemic. I see it in my stepkids whose hobbies and interests have fallen to the wayside of videogames and TikTok. I see it in myself and my husband as we sit beside each other on the couch, a show playing on the television screen while we simultaneously scroll through newsfeeds on our phones.

What have we sacrificed to the technological gods? What hobbies and conversations and imagination and depth of thought never come to life because we’re consuming reel after reel, oblivious to the room around us and the people in it?

This sounds an awful lot like the villainization of technology, but technology isn’t the culprit here. Although we’ve created tools with addictive qualities, how we use them is our choice. Alcohol in itself doesn’t create an addict. Our behaviors and choices do.

And we have a choice every day to decide how we spend our time.

As I conclude this common outcry against technology’s seduction, I think about my plans for today. When I close my laptop, I’ll be getting into my car to meet a friend for lunch. For a couple of hours, I’ll have a chance to get out of my head and connect with another person as we try out a new restaurant neither of us have been to before.

I’ll be engaging in life and sharing a new experience in a way that social media can never satisfy. And I know that when it’s over, I’ll feel fulfilled in a way I’ll never find through a computer or phone. Afterward, I’ll come home and probably work on some mundane tasks like household chores before picking up a new writing or art project.

And in those moments, I’ll remember that life exists outside of a screen. This technology is wonderful. It opens new doors to imagination, creation, and connection. But at the end of the day, it isn’t the world I live in.

And I don’t want to wake up one day realizing that I let the world I am a part of pass me by.



Elizabeth Carlton

Author of The Rogue Trilogy | 16+ years of professional writing experience spanning journalism, SEO, marketing, research and fiction | www.ElliWrites.com