I read an article this week - which I ironically found on my phone and then tapped twice to save to my email - that points out a growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off.
“Everyone is distracted,” Justin Rosenstein says. “All of the time.” He is a 34 year old veteran of tech-companies that is really worried about our ability to discipline ourselves. He is particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place. Talk about irony!Earlier this year a few hundred folks paid up to $1,700 to learn how to manipulate people into habitual use of their products at a technology development conference organised by Nir Eyal, who has spent years teaching techniques he developed by closely studying how the Silicon Valley giants operate. “The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions,” Eyal writes. “It’s the impulse to check a message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.” None of this is an accident, he writes. It is all “just as their designers intended.”
Where are you in this pitfall? Are you a victim? Do you have ways of resisting being caught up in their techniques? What about loved-ones? What things are suffering as we spend more and more time lost in these virtual worlds of social media? If these struggles are true, shouldn't we talk about them? How can we help? We were made for a rhythm of work and rest, going between being on and off. Are devices preventing you from turning off?
Grace and peace, Scott
PS - I encourage you to read here for the full article.