COVID-19 made our tech addiction worse: It’s time to do something about it

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated Americas addiction to innovation, and its making us sad, unproductive and distressed.
Business like Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat earn more advertising profits the more regularly we utilize their products. These companies utilize push alerts and personalized feeds to catch our attention, control our emotions and influence our actions.
Organization is excellent. Americans now invest more than 5 hours every day on their devices.
Governments are no more most likely to assist manage unhealthy tech intake than consumption of sugar or illegal drugs. We require to take control.

My viewpoint is as a previous tech CEO and innovation addict. The marketing platform I established raised over $100 million, grew to 350 employees and offered to a private equity firm in 2015. Along the method I picked up some dreadful tech practices; I checked email continuously and enabled push notices to disrupt every in-person interaction.
My tech use hit rock bottom last year on a go to with household. I fixed to put down my phone and garden with my mom, who has actually advanced Parkinsons and moves slowly and with intent.
I felt like an addict in withdrawal. My phone resembled a magnet pulling me to examine for missed out on work e-mails or breaking news. Tech overuse had rewired my brain, lowered the quality of daily consciousness and avoided me from being present.
I stepped down as CEO of my business earlier this year. Ive spent my time off discovering mindfulness, innovation and neuroplasticity dependency. Most notably, I established a technique for handling my tech usage thats made me better and more efficient.
Heres what I found out.
Tech firms exploit our brains to record our attention.
In their quest for our attention, some tech companies target the oldest parts of our brain, what UCLA psychiatrist Daniel Siegel calls the downstairs brain. The downstairs brain includes your brainstem and limbic regions, which control innate reactions and impulses (battle or flight) and strong feeling (like anger and fear). On the other hand, your upstairs brain, including your cortex, is where complex mental procedures happen, like thinking, planning and picturing.
The downstairs brain is reactive. Its created to secure us in emergency situations; it can make fast judgements, hijack our awareness and drive action through strong emotion. The downstairs brain is what is targeted by attention-seeking items. Headings that make us feel annoyed and TikTok alerts that make us feel reactive appeal to our downstairs brain.
Hanging out in a reactive state rewires our brains
Our brains alter with training. Research study has actually revealed that our brains are reprogrammed with the shooting patterns of nerve cells. Our nerve system can be rewired and transformed through repetitive, concentrated or activity in a process called neuroplasticity.
Repeated gadget use is a best example of neuroplasticity at work. The more time we spend reacting to push notifications, viewing videos in unlimited scroll or trying to find social recognition from social networks, the more our brains will rewire to want the same.
Our addiction will become worse as companies improve at recording attention
While numerous tech firms acknowledge issues from overusing their items, none will make radical changes needed to reduce their share of the attention earnings pool. Somebody else would consume their lunch if they did.
These companies are offering us sugary drinks. We need to take control of our usage and routines– we need to follow an innovation diet– or we will suffer the mental equivalent of morbid weight problems.
We can rewire our brains to be more efficient and better by changing our habits
Tech items fall into four food groups based on the quality of info and method of delivery if we think of innovation usage as an analog to food intake. Content quality is necessary: Some content is valuable (e.g., MITs online courseware) or vital (work email), while a lot of is not helpful (TikTok).
Healthy platforms offer firm to the user and allow us to pull content thats useful when we need it. Based on my experience, here are three actions we can take to execute a tech diet:
1. Eliminate products that enhance your downstairs brain (low-grade content pressed to you).
These applications prey on our downstairs brain, which pirates our better objectives and delivers unfavorable worth for the majority of people. I think our best defense is abstinence; we shouldnt use these apps.
Tip: I use Apples Content Restrictions on the iPhone and MacBook. I can break it if needed, but the process is hard enough that it doesnt go into daily consciousness.
2. When we require it), consume more products that strengthen your upstairs brain (high-quality material thats available.
Great material expands our knowledge and abilities and might add to rewiring our upstairs brain in such a way that contributes to our imagination, mindfulness and empathy.
Consuming great content is effortful but fulfilling. It needs undisturbed focus. Unlike sweet drinks, which were wired to take in unconsciously, leafy greens have to be taken in deliberately.
For me, this includes Kindle, Feedly, tech regulars and my favorite curation platforms: HackerNews and Product Hunt. Calm, one of numerous thriving mindfulness apps, likewise makes the list.
I recommend fasting on innovation periodically; I leave my phone in the house for strolls with my kid and dinner with buddies. I also recommend nontech activities that promote upstairs brain rewiring like an outdoor hike or learning to play an instrument.
3. Redesign usage patterns for productivity tools.
Email is required for most individuals. It has the prospective to make us productive. However the typical message quality is low, and the always-on, high frequency, push-by-default design avoids us from doing our best work.
Idea: Ive turned off alerts on whatever thats not meant for prompt or immediate messages (e.g., texts, Lyft, Tovala oven). Boomerangs Chrome Extension can be established to deliver all of your emails every hour on the hour. Batch processing email every hour considerably lowers the volume of disturbance without impacting my responsiveness.
We reside in relative abundance, with food, goods and security that would make our recent forefathers jealous. But abundance doesnt make us pleased; were the least happy on record. We seem to be residing in a collective state of downstairs brain, a continuous adult tantrum focused on strong sensations, feeling and impulsiveness.
But theres hope.
As individuals, I discovered that even a couple of months of technology dieting helped me end up being less impulsive and more conscious. As workers, we can quit working for business that benefit from the attention economy. As managers, we can firmly insist that our groups shut off their devices at night, turn off their Slack notifications and take genuine vacations. As parents, we can assist our kids develop healthy usage patterns.
Cumulative action– and rewiring of our brains– might alter the course of our politics and our ability to work together and solve the most important difficulties of the 21st century.
American innovation controls the attention economy. Its time for American development to control the way we utilize innovation.

The coronavirus pandemic sped up Americas addiction to innovation, and its making us unfortunate, nervous and unproductive.

Tech overuse had actually rewired my brain, lowered the quality of daily consciousness and avoided me from being present.
In their quest for our attention, some tech firms target the oldest parts of our brain, what UCLA psychiatrist Daniel Siegel calls the downstairs brain. The downstairs brain includes your brainstem and limbic regions, which control inherent responses and impulses (fight or flight) and strong feeling (like anger and fear). The downstairs brain is what is targeted by attention-seeking products. Headlines that make us feel tiktok and outraged notices that make us feel reactive appeal to our downstairs brain.

Stu Wall is a technology executive and entrepreneur who established Signpost, a cloud-based client communication platform that helps small companies scale.

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