Have you watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix? Do you think it will change our perspective on how we use and view technology? Have you changed any usage habits of your own?
I viewed the documentary a bit differently than most. As a follower of the Center for Humane Technology for a while now and a fan of what they’ve embarked on I had a rather biased opinion of the intrusive and addictive subject matter. I saw the culmination of what I’d been reading and practicing into a summarized dramatization and thoughtful story-telling.
This is new for some
As a university lecturer I’ve had a vested interest in learning how tech can influence our everyday lives. I’ve avoided turning a blind eye to the very real and significant ramifications tech can have on everything from opinions, study habits, focus, concentration, and ultimately performance outcomes for both my students and myself. It allows me to better understand what I’m up against; these barriers to understanding in the classroom and beyond.
So for some time I’ve been, unofficially on an amateur level, quietly observing human behavior of those I interact with. Instead of scoffing at whatever frustrates me I try to sympathize and empathize with the current situation. If I were to put up a fight it would eventually feel like “me versus the universe.”
For many others I’ve talked to The Social Dilemma is a wake up call. I’m met with wide-eyed astonishment regarding the newly-discovered practices of social media and the extent of its intrusiveness, lack of privacy, and, most-importantly, its addictiveness. I am told by parents that it will be required watching for their children and many have said they plan to watch it several more times in the future.
As someone who has been following this movement for a while and has had many discussions with friends and colleagues it is pleasant to hear about so many who are motivated and driven to act on their new education about the effects of social media and the negative habits it tends to cultivate.
But will they actually change their habits and consumption for the better? Will you take action?
It’s tough as a layman to find metrics to validate any trend or to justify a significant shift in use, perspective, or other specifics regarding tech habits. But there are some bread crumbs.
Anti social media has gained steam
Cal Newport has written and talked about this extensively over the past several years. His latest book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World is one of many on the market addressing the inundation and intrusion of tech in our lives. It starkly outlines concrete steps to cleanse yourself of digital clutter and fluff so you can potentially become more focused, productive, and subsequently less stressed.
As metrics about how effective The Social Dilemma are difficult to quantify (I do have a feeling the group at the Center for Humane Technology is working on this) one can’t argue on the amount of media dedicating itself to digital minimalism, decluttering, deleting social media, and adopting psychologically, mentally, and physically healthier technology usage habits.
The anti social media movement is up and running, but what about the larger issue of addictive use of digital devices? Have people realized the larger picture of device addiction? If social media and other apps are the drug, the phone can be considered the vehicle. As they seem to go hand in hand, those who have minimized or deleted their social media apps and account can still see themselves reaching for their phones for other things.
Out of habit they still possess the digital twitch to check maybe not social media, but text messages, email, messaging apps, and other notifications.
The “dumb phone”
There does seem to be a growing group of individuals who are “dumbing down” their phones. Back when these devices first came into societal view they had the ability to make and receive calls and crudely text message. Texting wasn’t all that efficient so it wasn’t as prevalent to see everyone head down into their devices. As the tech industry saw an “in” to people’s lives the ability to live your life online became not only a reality, but also mobile.
Fast-forward and the proverbial backlash has lead some to “dumb down’ their phones to function more or less as previously stated: talk and some text.
As this trend has gained some steam it still isn’t as widely accepted. The “fear of missing out” has an enormous and all-too self-important grip on society as a whole. Those who cleanse their lives of apps and improve tech usage for the better normally report that they will never go back to “business as usual.” However, the chronic issue remains as to how to initiate change to begin with.
Are those who clean up their tech use special in some way? Are they the “unicorns” of our society who just so happen to possess the ability to elicit personal change?
Back to the dilemma
So will The Social Dilemma change your habits? Will it drive you to real action? Or did it just reinforce your stance already in place?
One can’t argue of the impact it has made on society. The number of people talking about it is impressive and I only hope it’s just a start for us opening these discussions as well as “humane technology” spearheading a new direction. A shift is definitely upon us and it will be up to us to lead the charge.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear your stories and experiences on this.
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