Time saved from hunting, gathering, foraging, and running away from predators is spent swiping through TikTok and Instagram Reels.
Meet Alice 👩 Alice’s a strong and tough individual who lived among hunter-gatherer communities millions of years ago, on the same Earth that we walk on today.
Meet Bob 🧔 Bob’s just another bloke from the 21st century like you and me, living a comfortable life in the western world.
Even though Bob and Alice lived on this Earth millions of years apart, in both of their cases, they failed to live to their full potential because of a myriad of reasons. However, the reasons couldn’t be more different for both Bob and Alice.
Let’s start with Alice.
Hunter-Gatherers Throughout History
Hunter-gatherers had it very tough.
They relied on hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants to survive. Alice’s life wasn’t guaranteed. Every morning she woke up, she wasn’t sure whether she would be back in bed when the darkness of night rolled in.
One of the biggest dangers Alice faced was the weather. She’s out and about most days, and she didn’t live in a fancy house or had anything to protect her from heat, cold, or rain. Inevitably, this caused her to suffer from hypothermia or heat exhaustion.
A huge daily trouble for Alice was predators.
Throughout the ages, there have been many fascinating and awe-inspiring predators that have roamed this very planet. From the huge Andrewsarchus of the Eocene epoch to the saber-toothed tigers of the Pleistocene epoch, these predators have left their mark on the world and still captivate our imaginations today.
To paint a better picture, let me talk about some of these predators that Alice had to flee from quite frequently.
Saber-toothed tigers last walked on our Earth around 12,000 years ago. They were famous for their long, curved canine teeth, which could grow up to 7 inches in length. These teeth allowed them to take down large prey like mammoths, bison, and horses.
Dire wolf was larger and more robust than modern gray wolves, and their powerful jaws allowed them to take down large prey like bison and horses.
Most of Alice’s days were passed focused on survival. She didn’t have much time to do anything else.
Times were very different back then.
Talking about time, let’s fast forward to the 21st century where Bob is in his bed, currently in his fourth hour of scrolling down TikTok’s infinite feed.
Bob’s Modern Life
Modern-day life in the Western world has become increasingly easy and convenient, thanks to the rise of technology and automation. From online shopping to smart home devices, Bob has access to a wide range of tools and resources that make everyday tasks much easier.
When Bob needs food, he can go to the nearest supermarket. If he’s feeling lazy, he can just order food through Uber Eats or Doordash.
When Bob wants to sleep, he can lock his door, turn on the air-conditioning or heater, and cozy in for a deep sleep.
Of course, this ease of life is not universal. Many people around the world still lack access to basic necessities like clean water and healthcare. But for those who are lucky enough to live in the Western world, there’s no denying that life is easier than it ever has been before.
The possibilities and opportunities that technology provides have made life in the Western world more comfortable and efficient, allowing people to focus on the things that matter most to them.
So, let’s see what crazy thing Bob is up to today now that technology has literally bought Bob the time that Alice didn’t have.
… That is, once Bob is done scrolling through TikTok, which should be soon, I hope. It’s been five hours already…
Modern Life Distractions
To no one’s surprise, Bob is not necessarily doing anything crazy with the extra time and convenience.
In the modern world, distractions are all around us, and they can have a significant impact on our ability to reach our full potential.
Even though the internet has allowed us to be more productive than ever before, it has also been a major distraction that prevents us from focusing on our goals and achieving success.
Let’s break down some of these distractions and dangers, and compare these modern-day predators with the Sabre-toothed tigers and Dire Wolves that Alice ran into from time to time.
One of the most significant distractions in modern life is social media.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are designed to keep us engaged and scrolling through our feeds for as long as possible.
They don’t care what we are giving our precious time and attention to, as long as it’s on their respective platforms. This can be a major time sink that prevents us from working on more important tasks.
Our attention, just like our data, has become a commodity.
We spend hours after hours on these platforms with literally nothing to show for at the end of the day. It’s not uncommon for people (like Bob) to have screen times of almost 8 hours. That’s a full-time job in itself!
Instead of spending these 8 hours (that Alice never had) on meaningful and productive activities, Bob (along with us) just spend them on wasteful activities.
Smartphones & Notifications
Notifications are another major source of distraction in modern life.
Our phones and other devices are constantly buzzing and beeping with alerts from social media, email, and other apps.
Frequent notifications are more likely to lead to reduced productivity and increased stress. The constant alerts can also make it difficult to relax and can lead to burnout.
Above all, notifications make it impossible for Bob and others to engage in any kind of deep work. Constant context switching and shifting attention stop us from learning, creating, or contributing anything that’s meaningful.
Short Attention Span
Short-form content has become increasingly popular.
From TikTok and Instagram Reel videos to 30-second advertisements on YouTube, it seems that we are always consuming bite-sized pieces of information.
While this type of content can be entertaining and informative, it also has some serious drawbacks that can affect our brains and our overall well-being.
One of the biggest dangers of short-form content is its effect on our attention span.
When Bob consumes information in small, easily digestible bites, his brain becomes accustomed to receiving information in this format. As a result, it can be difficult for him to focus on longer, more complex pieces of information like books or scientific articles.
In fact, studies have shown that Bob is not an exception. Our attention spans have decreased significantly in recent years, and many experts believe that short-form content is partly to blame.
Reduced Memory Retention
Another danger of short-form content is its effect on our memory. When we consume information in small pieces, our brains don’t have the opportunity to make connections between different pieces of information. This can make it difficult for us to retain information over the long term.
In addition, short-form content is often designed to be quickly consumed and then forgotten, which can make it difficult for us to retain important information.
Alice vs Bob
Alice had it really rough.
Technology and society evolved to a point where modern life in the western world is fairly comfortable. We have saved hours from our day that used to be spent on hunting, gathering, foraging, or worse, running away from Sabre-toothed tigers and Dire Wolves.
However, those saved hours today are spent on other predators preying on our attention — social media, notifications, short-form content, content focused on sensationalism, and soundbites.
Because of these, even though Bob lives a much more comfortable life than Alice, he still cannot truly do something special and fulfill his potential.
The predators preying on our time and attention did not disappear in the last million years. Maybe it doesn’t directly attack and kill us anymore, but it still takes most of our attention and time every day.