“Places don't matter to people any more. Places aren't the point. People are only ever half present where they are these days.
They always have at least one foot in the great digital nowhere.”
Behind each addiction lies a major industry profiting from addicts.
The tobacco and alcohol industries are perfect examples.
Technology addiction—our almost obsessive, compulsive relationship
with apps, smartphones, social media, the internet, games, and other new
media—is an increasing threat to our health and well-being.
With the massive and growing technology addiction, few are aware of how
daily, moment by moment, insidiously and pervasively it impacts their
behaviour and health.
Most, incorrectly, assume that we are the customers of “free” services such
as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Gmail.
But we’re not the customers; we are the products. The real customers are those companies who advertise with them, who want our data, the patterns of our usage, and especially our attention; the real customers are those who profit from our attentions.
Every transaction you have on Instagram or Facebook etc puts money in their pockets.
This is the “unknown secret” of the tech world.
It’s a world which has been compared to an entire army of jets and tanks pointing right at us, capturing and keeping our attention… an army that’s winning. the Annual Communications Market report by Ofcom in 2010 reported that the average adult is awake for 15 hours and 45 minutes each day and 45% of that time is spent using a variety of technology devices. We become "chained" to our screens, brains transfixed, attention captivated, almost hypnotised, thumbs twitching as we walk, as we climb and descend escalator, glance at traffic lights, message in meetings, over meals.
This is us good people. You! Eyes glazed, mouth open, neck bent, trapped in the hidden psychology of why we're addicted to our phones , and surrounded by a filter bubble … the intellectual isolation that can occur when websites make use of algorithms to selectively assume the information a user would want to see, based on former click behaviour, browsing history, search history and location and then give information to the user according to this assumption and data. And so, the websites are more likely to present only information that will align with the user's past activity. A filter bubble, therefore, can cause users to get significantly less contact with contradicting and wider viewpoints, causing the user to become intellectually isolated.
We may get repetitive strain injury, hearing loss, phone headaches, Facebook depression, and other significant health concerns.
Our attention is sold to advertisers, along with our data, and handed back to us broken and fragmented.
This matters because…
… our attention is one of our most valuable resources.
Every act needs attention for its successful performance. Working, talking, studying and playing all require attention. Even washing, cleaning the house, the car, or cooking require it, in order to be handled efficiently and effectively. People aren’t born with the power of attention. It is a skill that needs to be honed and developed.
And the overall quality and successes of our experiences in life are determined by the focus of our attention.
Pay poor attention and you get poor or ineffective results. Imagine lives at stake if nurses and doctors, pilots and air traffic controllers worked with scant attention.
If our attention is fragmented, drawn in myriad different directions, easily swayed and distracted, shallow and limited, fast and fleeting, then that is what our experience of life will be.
And most in their day to day lives, away from their professional focus, choose, mostly unconsciously, how much attention to give to the day’s demands.
Is this what you would choose for yourself? Lack of awareness, poor consciousness, low level attention?
In counselling sessions, after people have explained to me how their time is used, when I ask that question, the answer is a resounding no.
Yet it’s precisely what happens when we engage with technology without awareness or boundaries. We fall victim to our hardwired, reward-seeking behaviours, and we become exponentially the ever more valuable products of Big Tech companies.
Treatment for your Tech Addictions
Read up on the Importance of the Power of Attention
Turn off all non-essential notifications on your phone i.e. all except phone, text messages, and calendar. Do you need to be notified each time a friend posts on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter?
Consider taking up Meditation
Consider some Concentration Exercises for Training the Mind
Install the BreakFree app on your phone – it’s aimed at controlling smartphone addiction and helping you maintain a healthy digital lifestyle
Install the Apple Moment app, an iOS app that tracks your daily iPhone and iPad usage and let’s you set daily limits and be notified when you go over your limit or disconnects when you’re over your limit. With Moment Family - manage your family’s screen time from your phone and set time for your family to be screen-free during eg family dinner time.
Do a 30-day tech addiction challenge. E.g. the 30-day programme recommended in Catherine Price’s book How to Break Up with Your Phone.
Don ‘t rely on the tech companies like Apple and Facebook to address the addictive nature of their products and offer tools for restricting usage. After all, you are their money-making products—not their customers.
Preserve your most valuable asset: your health.
Preserve your attention.