Hello beautiful human being 👋
how is your technological addiction going this week?
Oops…. did I use the word addiction? Sorry, I meant your “social media habit”.
A couple of weeks ago my girlfriend and I had dinner with a couple of friends in Pisa (Tuscany, Italy).
What do you think we did, whilst eating gorgeous Italian food and drinking amazing local wine in the centre of one of the most artistically renowned cities in the world?
Yep, we kept checking our phones compulsively.
I don’t know what snapped in me that evening, but after that episode I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reading and researching about technological addictions and questioning my own use of technology.
“Yes, Facebook is evil and makes me less productive. Delete my account?! Of course not, other people are addicted, not me!”
“I think I’m wasting a lot of time on Instagram and it actually makes me feel sad. Everyone seems to have a lot of fun but I know it’s fake. I thought about cancelling my account but not now… now I got to watch these funny videos.”
You know it’s an addiction because we are ashamed of it but we don’t want to do ANYTHING about it.
The biggest problem with addictions is that they don’t look like addictions for those who are addicted. Indeed, people will go the extra mile to justify and rationalize why they keep doing something that harms them (trust me, I’ve been a smoker for 10 years.)
The result is in front of everyone: we are not in charge of our relationship with technology anymore. It controls us and we know it.
“Ok, but what can I do?”
This is the question I get asked the most when I raise my concerns.
I don’t know what you can do but I can tell you what I’m doing:
I’ve removed all social media apps from my phone (eliminating the temptation to open them when I’m bored)
I’ve turned off ALL notifications on my phone
I’ve started using a chrome extension that literally blocks me from accessing certain websites except for specific times of the day I set. (eg: I can only access my inbox twice a day)
I’ve stopped using Slack because it made focusing impossible (instead I’ve switched to Twist, which promotes a calmer and more mindful communication)
These are little steps, but we can all do something to help ourselves. Little steps. How about no phones in restaurants/theatres/cinemas or just anytime you are with somebody else? The first person who checks their phone without a compelling reason, pays the bill.
Whatever you decide to do, simply thinking about the problem is already a step forward.
PS: If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it with your friends. Thank you! 🙏
What is making me think
😵 We know that tech companies can manipulate our minds with their addictive products. What we don’t know yet is how this is affecting democracy. If you are only going to read one article this weekend, make it this one.
📱 Tristan Harris, a former product designer at Google, argues that we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology simply because technology has become better at controlling us. You should trust him: he’s one of the guys who have designed the most addictive apps in history. (Related TED Talk with Tristan Harris).
📹 Simon Sinek in yet-another-fantastic-speech about leadership. This one has made me ask myself “which game am I actually playing?”
💸 People (especially young and working in tech) are increasingly falling in love with the idea of Universal Income, yet very few of them see the political and social consequences of it. Great article if, like me, you think Universal Income is the future.
📅 I’ve created a simple tool to visualise your life in weeks. The aim is for you to answer the question: What would you do if you could count the life you have left?
What I'm reading
I’m reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. The author is a concentration camp survivor who also happened to be a psychotherapist. In talking about his story, he focuses on the psychological problems of life in a camp and how he managed to overcome those by identifying the purpose of his life. Great book.
Before that, I read “Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I find it genuinely hard to describe this book and I’m not even sure I’d recommend it. However, lots of interesting ideas and mental models to make you look cool at a dinner party.
🚾 Some public lavatories in Beijing use facial recognition so that the automatic dispensing machines will deny toilet paper to people who ask for it more than once within a given period.
❄️ A giant hole (80,000 square kilometres; 30,888 square miles) has opened in Antarctic ice pack, and no one knows why
If you made it this far, I’d love your feedback on what you’d like to see (or not like to see) in the next email digest. Just hit the reply button.