Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, was interviewed by James Altucher on the podcast The James Altucher Show. In the conversation, Newport brings up a concept called “mental residue,” which is the phenomenon that occurs when we glance at our email or our cell phones for just 30 seconds just before we dive into a practice, discipline, or some kind of focus.
He says this “mental residue” stays with us for up to 20 to 30 minutes into our focus time.
I’m sure this could be expanded to include any activity we happen to be doing in real life – from having dinner with a close friend, to performing in the workplace, to writing a poem. If we allow our minds even brief stimulation, it could mean some serious mental costs.
This brings to attention the danger of Social Media. While some aspects of the “online presence” can be useful, every Impresario walks the line between falling prey to the focus deficit it can cause, and only using it strategically, to reach folks in ways that doing so in person could not.
Cal Newport argues that Social Media is not really useful or needed at all because it causes people to waste attention and therefore does more harm than good. I am inclined to agree with him, because at the end of the day, it’s the Craft, the Vision, that truly matters.