Addiction by design

How technology keeps us hooked

Hi there,

In 2011, I quit Facebook. In 2013, I quit Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. In 2017, I quite my last-standing social media account, Twitter. I was off social media all-for three years. In between, I studied closely the psychological implications of the digital world on our lives and well-being. One of the most important lessons I learned was technology is addictive by design.

Below are five things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. With technological advances of the last two centuries, advertisers have achieved unprecedented access to our thoughts and feelings and have a plethora of useful personal data on each of us. Our data is used in two important ways. Data is used to persuade us, and data is used to manipulate us. It is much easier to persuade someone to do something or influence their behavior if you know them and know which buttons to push.  

  2. I’m currently reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. One thing that resonated with me is how many past and present influential thinkers avoid constant connectedness and dedicate their time and attention to their work instead. I was especially in awe of Donald Knuth, a famous computer scientist who “have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address.” What a luxury…

  3. Please watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix. If you have already seen the Social Dilemma, or don’t want to dedicate 1.5 hours of your life to a documentary on how big social media companies manipulate users by using algorithms that encourage addiction to their platforms, watch Tristan Harris’s 17-minute TEDTalk on how a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day. Enjoy!

  4. A quote I’ve been pondering: “Only dead fish go with the flow,” found on Derek Sivers’s blog. We don’t have to go with the flow of what tech companies try to feed us to keep us hooked on their platforms.

  5. Here’s an option: Pay attention to what you pay attention to.

That’s all for this week!

Thank you for reading, and please tell a few friends if you’d like.


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Until next time… :)


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