How “Thought Germs” Spread on the Internet (video)

"This Video Will Make You Angry" explores how we can prime the brain to have a healthier relationship to what we see on the Internet. 

Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Yes—the Internet can be deliciously distracting and that can make us feel a bit out of control sometimes. One minute, you’re answering an email, the next, you’re spiralling down a hole of baby zoo animal videos.

The video demonstrates why cute and/or inspiring videos and “flame wars” (anger-filled exchanges) attract so much attention online—and take up so much space in our brains.

A great takeaway from the video:

Thought germs of all kinds come and go, but it’s useful to be aware of how thoughts can use our emotions to spread and how the more rapidly a thought is able to spread, the more chances it has to become even better at spreading through random changes that are made to it. Sometimes that’s great, sometimes it’s terrible.

The best way forward to maintain a healthy brain? Be cautious of thoughts that have “passed through a lot of other brains and poke you where you’re weakest.” To put it another way: Thoughts are not facts. “If your mind jumps to a conclusion that sends you spiralling into negativity, check where your mind was at at the moment of intepretation,” says Elisha Goldstein, Mindful’s mental health blogger.

And if you’re having trouble putting down the adorable videos, you might want to check out Mindful’s Take Control of Your Tech Habits infographic.