The brilliant physicist, Albert Einstein, supposedly said: Anyone who can drive safely while kissing a girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
Colorful icons give our brains shiny rewards every time we unlock the screen. If we set our phone to grayscale to remove those positive reinforcements, it helps us check the phone less. I am one of those who suffer from incessant checking. Sure my children feel sorry for me, because greyscale is boring, but I am getting used to it. I am beginning to see more colors in the real world now. There are a few cherry blossoms blooming already.
According to Tristan Harris, former Google design ethicist and founder of Center for Humane Technology: your phone is designed to control your life. The goal of the technology is a race for our attention, mainly the lizard brain, and keeping the reflective brain numb.
How do companies profit from keeping people entranced with their phones? By steering the thoughts and actions of two billion minds every day. According to Tristan, “For any company whose business model is advertising, they care about the amount of time someone spends on the product, they make more money the more time people spend”. These services are in competition with where we would want to spend our time, whether that’s sleep or time spent with friends. “Our biggest competitors are facebook, youtube and sleep” -Netflex CEO.
On average, people check their phones 150 times per day – from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep.
We have to protect our minds from constant distractions, minimize screen time and invest our time in relationships. Some of the suggestions given in order to take back control of our time, along with going greyscale, is to limit your home screen to tools only. Some time we open apps mindlessly because they are the first thing we see when we unlock the phone. Limit the home screen to just tools–the apps you use for quick in-and-out tasks like Maps, Camera, Calendar, Notes and move the rest into folders. Launch other apps by typing instead of leaving bad habits on the home screen. Typing takes just enough effort to make us pause and ask, “do I really want to do this?” Another method is is to charge the phone outside of (or on the other side of) the bedroom at night – minimizing our chance of getting gravitated towards the phone first thing when we get out of bed.
Tristan reminds us that:
I) we are persuadable – in that something that we might want to protect
2) persuasive technology labs at Stanford, yes persuasive technology (how many of us knew that existed), teach people how to persuade and organise people’s lives
3) we need a new model where the goals of the persuader are aligned with the goals of the persuadee
4) replace the App Store apps competing for usage with a marketplace of tools competing to benefit our lives and society.
Clearing by Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.