#732 You, Me, Rabbits…

And Lopsided Arms Races

The other day I was driving to my Trail a little before sunrise.

It was one of those post-rain orangey-pink mornings when the sky is so incredibly beautiful that I (briefly!) wished I actually used my smartphone so I could capture the moment.

Then I reminded myself that sharing every moment on Instagram isn’t my primary goal in life (hah) before returning to savoring the moment, allowing the awe to permeate my being before I carried on.

Which leads us to my encounter with a little rabbit in the middle of the road I’d like to chat about Today.

So…

I’m driving up the little two-lane road to the Trailhead when a fluffy little bunny attempts to cross the street. He freezes. Goes back and forth. Freezes again. Then bolts back into the shrubbery.

As I sat there in my car waiting for him (her?) to figure out his evasion strategy, I realized that he simply didn’t evolve to know how to effectively deal with such a weird experience as a (seemingly benign) car driving up a street.

Then I thought about the book I was reading at the time: Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism.

Flip open to chapter #1 entitled “A Lopsided Arms Race” in which we learn about just how unfair the fight is between you/your ancient brain and the vast army of technologists trying to hack your brain for their financial gain.

As I waited for that rabbit to figure things out, I also thought about the parallels between his evolutionarily mismatched response strategy and a gem from Bored and Brilliant.

Tech ethicist Tristan Harris (who is featured in the must-watch 60 Minutes episode on “Brain Hacking”) tells us: “The most important thing to acknowledge is that it’s an unfair fight. On one side is a human being who’s just trying to get on with her prefrontal cortex, which is a million years old and in charge of regulating attention. That’s up against a thousand engineers on the other side of the screen, whose daily job is to break that and keep you scrolling on the infinite feed.

Check out our Notes on Digital Minimalism and Cal’s great class Digital Minimalism 101 for more.

For now, the next time you feel yourself compulsively picking up your phone Today, let’s remember the rabbit. 🐰

May he serve as a simple reminder of the challenges our ancient brains have interacting with our modern world.

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