The Internet and Candyfloss Addiction

When I were a lad, in ‘t days of ‘t horse and cart, show grounds were epicentres of candyfloss. Yucky sticky stuff which would coat and rot your teeth in seconds.  There’s probably a conspiracy theory out there that it was funded by dentists.

candyflossFortunately in those days even a five-year old could only do candyfloss in certain places. The supply was limited.

But now we have the interweb and constant interwebbing devices we can do candyfloss at any time. And like all addictions there is a lot of denial and rationalisation associated with it. Indeed some otherwise very bright buttons have spent a lot of time explaining  to me why they only do candyfloss and why there is actually no way they would – say – do meat and veg.

And this causes a problem. A problem that hits the best businesses hardest.

How so?

It is all very well accepting The Tao of BizDev marketing mantra:

Market messages not stuff.

But a product-centric (as opposed to marketing-centric) business needs to get over – well the meat of the argument about its meaty product.

If large chunks of your target market only eat the hors d’oeuvre, the nibbles before the meal, or at best taste the starter, how will they ever get a taste of your steak?

In an interweb world of candyfloss addiction this is very hard – otherwise intelligent folks would rather hit a dozen links rather than read through one article.  Would rather catch a dozen Facebook/LinkedIn/etc updates than even modestly deep dive into one topic.  Would rather watch a dozen one minute YouTubes than one ten minute YouTube … don’t even ask me how many people have told me they “never watch a YouTube for more than 2 minutes” – the same people that will spend hours surfing the candyfloss or sofa-slumped in the evening moaning about there being nothing to watch on TV.


The Neurobiology of Candyfloss Addiction

Although we are unlikely to be able to release a brain reprogramming virus into the air anytime soon – and thus change the world that way – it’s important to understand the mechanism of why this happens.  In that way you might be able to free yourself from an addiction to candyfloss and a scattered and overloaded head.

After all, after too much candyfloss you don’t have any appetite for your main course – and all those books you bought sit unattended on your shelves or kindle.

The first hack is that our dopamine systems were designed for the environment of the last billion years not the last dozen. Dopamine has many roles but a key one is the reward system and in particular the interweb has lots of rewards … hey that looks interesting … click ….micro-dopamine hit of reward … mm … hey that looks interesting … click ….micro-dopamine hit of reward … etc.

The bug in the system is that dopamine satiety works for Big Hits only … you travelled all day finally beat the wooly mammoth to a pulp with your club and MMMMMM. And no desire to chase another.

The second hack is our attentional systems. It’s why TV ads first and then films and now many TV shows have a  manic pace of editing – we have a reflex action to root our eyes towards change. So we are being rewired for ever shorter attention spans. Anyone for some ADD?

The third hack is the oldest one in the book.  The slide from hunger to greed. We are hungry for information. We are greedy for information. We are hungry for connection. We are greedy for connection.


The Consequences of Candyfloss Addiction – You Are What You Eat

Too much interweb candyfloss and your head will feel overfull and scattered.  We all know how it feels after overdoing the surfing when you can’t even recall the last page let alone the one hours back.  Not nice.

Carry that on for too long and you just burnout 🙁  Sadly I was at a presentation on social media recently where the presenter didn’t seem to make the connection between the very techniques they were recommending and their own personal burnout. More spreading mind-viruses than meme perhaps.

Social media and “me too” brings me onto the third consequence – a superficial, un-thought-through and “me too” attitude.  The vast majority of interweb candyfloss on any topic is (to channel David Icke) by sheeple acting as repeaters.  Original thought is very hard to come by and – well, even then, quite often that page goes on too long …. and one goes off for another ‘floss hit before quite getting to the T-bone.

And the T-Bones are out there.

For example my main source for Essential! The Divided Brain, The Search for Meaning, The Porcupine is a Monkey – an overview of the one living person whose work  I would most recommend on 21stC society and culture (and the neurobiological origin thereof) – was a one hour YouTube interview (which I watched from my sofa :-)).



Handling Candyfloss Addiction

Candyfloss is ok. Really. I don’t go as far as Mr Carr who – whilst making some good points on this topic – has been criticised for being a bit of a Luddite.


Every technology rewrites folks’ brains and changes society.  After a while folks adjust to using it somewhat wisely. Cars get crashed less, the phone doesn’t ring all the time at home.

Also by increasing the range of ones knowledge is increasing the ability to make connections, see patterns that one never would when in one small village or silo.  It’s this connecting disparate ideas that Koestler in his Act of Creation defined as the very essence of creation.

So some candyflossing can be good for creativity.


Beyond Candyfloss Addiction

Wearing my Transformational Tools hat I have had plenty of chance to examine real life stories of how folks change. By far the most amazing discovery has been the power of awareness alone.

What is clear is that if you aren’t aware of a problem you won’t fix the problem.  If you haven’t read about the pros and cons of candyfloss, dopamine, hunger and greed you will just think it’s “obviously sensible” never to watch a YouTube over two minutes long.

With awareness however – especially when desire arises – well, amazingly enough, these wonderful things call heads soon rustle up a plan and solve all sorts of problems. It is miraculous.

Also technology helps (ironically lol). Smart TVs, Chromecast et al mean that one can view YouTubes (to take the best example) just like a TV channel.  Now at this point – in a different set and setting – it’s an absolute no-brainer to (at least sometimes) watch the great one hour, two hour material that is on YouTube. Personally I have learned a vast amount of really fantastic stuff from this kind of format.  Some friends of mine don’t have a TV but use YouTube for entertainment, education et al.

Rather like podcasts (who sits and listens to a one hour talk in front of their pc?) it’s a question of being tech-ed up properly. Then it’s a no brainer.

How addicted to candyfloss are you? As I made this article longer than normal I guess “less than most” is the answer to that 🙂



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.