Last week I was thinking about what an unhappy combination the Default Mode Network and Smartphone Notifications make.
When we are not actively engaged in a task we switch to the Default Mode Network of the brain the thinking which arises is discursive (jumping from subject to subject), autobiographical and though occasionally touching on pleasant subjects, eventually highlighting our shortcomings and failures and making us unhappy and anxious regardless of our actual circumstances.
It’s automatic, pre-programmed behavior in human beings.
I think DMN may be one reason why people get so addicted to their social media feeds. They are fighting the voice of their DMN with the fire of constant notifications. Anything to make the internal voice stop. Doom-scrolling, notifications for everything, alerts and alarms all day long, just to avoid the internal voice.
Perhaps app designers read books about neuroscience and know very well that people WANT something to take their attention away from the internal dialog. They know how to get our attention and how to keep it.
Thousands of years ago the DMN was extremely useful because people had time on their hands. They might have been busy during the day but nights were long without lamps and electric lights, without TV or computer or even books. One could spend part of a night staring into a fire (the beginning of meditation?) and one still had lots of time for sleep, especially in winter. The same rumination that drove humanity forward for thousands of years, now makes us unhappy because our lives have changed.