The creative brief writer’s worst enemy.

We love to beat up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even LinkedIn, and the entirety of the internet for our ills.

But there is a larger point not enough of us are willing to say or even think.

Social media and the vast online swamp are not to blame. They are the symptoms.

Without the smartphone, social media would not exist. In fact, much of the internet would struggle for existence.

Take away the phone and our instant connection disappears. Our instant access to outrage evaporates. Our unthinkingness, minus the phone, is forced to stop and do something uncomfortable, or at least too infrequently exercised today: Being quiet with our thoughts. Being alone, solitary. You know, like we used to be in the Before Time. Before smartphones.

We are afraid of our own thoughts.

Don’t blame the internet. Blame the Deliverer. One of the best creative briefs ever written, “1,000 songs in your pocket” could be rewritten as “1,000 addictions in your pocket.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the premise of my argument here. And it’s an old argument, too. On June 28, 2007, the world did not know about the iPhone. The next day, June 29, everything changed. A Rubicon had been crossed. The most prescient social scientists demonstrate, with much evidence, that the slippery slope to societal stupidity began on that day in June. Blame it on iOS.

In the advertising industry, our brief writing skills joined other cognitive skills on their downhill slide. The iPhone and other smartphones that followed removed a necessary function of our brains: quiet time. It was stolen from us and we are paying the price.

The more you keep your nose buried in your phone, the more your subconscious mind atrophies from lack of use—the part of your brain where creativity hibernates, waiting to awaken. The phone keeps it sleeping.

A brief is a thinking person’s document. More than that, the document requires you to own your own thoughts. The internet steals your thoughts and it’s anyone’s guess what they’re replaced with. The blue light from your screen plays havoc with your brainwaves. Overload of input numbs and pacifies your neurons.

Put the damn phone down. Give yourself a chance to think for a minute.

Brief writing, like all creativity, requires certain skills. The internet, social media, unending online content all contribute to the weakening of those skills. They are the heroin, but the phone is the needle.

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