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Alex Pang: How Email Leaves Us Breathless—And Why It Matters [VIDEO]
Digital and Social Media | January 29, 2013

Alex Pang: How Email Leaves Us Breathless—And Why It Matters [VIDEO]

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang started his keynote at LIFT off with a somewhat unusual request: he asked the audience to check their email. As they did, Pang asked them to notice if they were holding their breath. "Almost everyone holds their breath while they check their email," he says, "but almost no one realizes it." Aside from being an interesting tidbit, that fact is also an important illustration of the effects that digital technology has on our bodies—and our lives.

As he explains, holding your breath increases the flow of C02 through your bloodstream which sets off alarm bells in your brain. Your body then triggers the fight or flight response and your anxiety rises. Therefore, this modern technology accidentally switches on an ancient survival response in our bodies when it is not really necessary. Pang says this perfectly showcases the problematic and complicated relationship with have with modern technology. While digital devices were supposed to make our lives easier, it is often the case that the opposite is true. These tools can be extremely distracting and actually alter the way that our minds work.

While some people argue that this is an unalterable by-product of the digital era, Pang explains that his system of "contemplative computing" can help to counteract this effect. He has devised a strategy that can help you make the most out of technology and become more focused and creative at work and in life. In his keynotes and his book The Distraction Addiction (due out in 2013) he explains how we can overcome all of the commotion and redesign our relationship with the digital world.
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