Go to any cafe in the Mission right now and you’ll see someone watching a video of the streets of Tahiti on their laptops, or texting their cousin in Mexico, or flipping through their friend’s photos of extreme skateboarding on Instagram. And as we do so, our minds trick our bodies into thinking we’re intensely productive, says Rachman Chung.
I sat down for a chat in the Mission Local office with Rachman. He’s a chiropractic neurologist here in the Bay.
He says that the web can make us feel like we’re having a variety of physical and emotional experiences, like surfing on a beach, or immersed in a deep conversation with a friend.
But really, we’re engaging in prolonged periods of inactivity that decrease our balance and flexibility. So from our body’s perspective, we’re essentially motionless, with our heads bent over and our eyes moving rapidly from right to left across a bright screen.
“We’re using a visually mediated system, sitting stationary at the computer,” he says. And we’re neglecting other systems that support the brain like our “muscles and joints.”
We’re neglecting our “equilibrium centers,” Rachman says, “that are related to moving in the world.”
And Rachman says that if we don’t spend enough time physically exploring our environments, “slowly the map of the brain becomes blurred.” In other words, if we don’t make it a point to navigate the three-dimensional world we’ll lose our ability to do so.
Think about a simple walk down the street. Without being aware of it, you’ll have to use your sense of geography (downtown is to my left, Bernal’s to my right) to realize what direction you’re traveling. You’ll have to notice warning sounds, such as a fire engine or bike speeding past. You’ll avoid potholes and decipher if a person or situation poses a threat.
So from the body/mind perspective, a simple walk down the street is actually more complex than sitting still writing computer code. Not to mention the more nuanced emotional aspects involved in navigating the fine art of friendship.
So take a walk with a friend today. It might be the most productive thing you’ve done all week.
And speaking of strolling, join Cristiano Valli, Mission Local’s Italian tech volunteer, for the first Thursday night Mission Local walk on December 11th. Meeting point: On Valencia in front of the Mission Playground. Meeting Time: 9 p.m.