The paradox of our time is solving a tech problem by adding more technology.
Why is everybody trying to solve a tech problem (Smartphone Addiction) by adding more technology? Do we really need another app (on our phone) to solve our addiction to these omnipresent devices? Perhaps we should note that the problem is that we use our smartphones for literally EVERYTHING: calls, texting, social media, reading the news, watching TV, listening to music, tracking workouts, writing notes, checking calendars, alarm-clock, purchasing clothes, food, anything; flirting / dating, taking a taxi, driving (GPS), checking the weather, meditation, catching a thief (home security), etc. The list is endless.
All right, let’s do something. Instead of facing this debate from the standard POV of the Smartphone world, let’s make an analogy.
Is the below the solution to cigarettes? No, right? Ok. Let’s make it simpler. Are you going to smoke less or quit cigarettes by using a tech-enhanced cigarette? Is it clearer now?
What about now?
Vaping PHOTO BY MPUMELELO MACU ON UNSPLASH
What about if we start taking away things we do with our smartphones? Why don’t we reduce their power over us?
Most of the solutions to curb our smartphone addiction are based on tracking consumption. Don’t get me wrong, tracking is great (Apple and Google already offer it by default now) but, is it really the solution? NO. Tracking your smartphone consumption is a good first step, but with no follow-up actions, it just drives more frustration and the growing anxiety of “self-improvement” (more likes, less calories).
Let’s look at another example. Instead of facing this debate from the standard POV, let’s make an analogy.
Is this below the solution to healthier food habits? No, right? Ok. Let’s make it simpler. Is this the solution to lose weight? No, right?
Technology is great but the way it’s designed is wrong.
Technology drives competition, an egocentric and unhealthy competition that doesn’t serve a real purpose. Technology puts all of our habits and consumptions patterns under the same circumstances and rewards the Darwinist.
Peter Drucker said, “If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It.” He was right, but he was also the most rational of his kind and came from a very different era. Actually, marketers have taken this amazing saying and transformed it to their own benefit, “If You Can Measure It, You Can Sell it”. Let’s face it. Tracking consumption or metrics is more of a marketing tactic than a magical solution. I mean, we just need to analyze Facebook and new tech companies. They are all based on the same principle: “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” (blue_beetle in MetaFilter)
— Dave Birss (@davebirss) April 12, 2018
I'm sick of the word 'smart'. Just got an email from Indigogo with a smart projector, smart sleep mask, smart home camera and even a smart f*&^ing duvet. Makes me want to give someone a smart punch in their smart face. pic.twitter.com/EmWy6nglb7
What if the solution was simpler?
What if we can solve addictions by reducing our dependence to the substance (whether it’s tobacco, alcohol, food or smartphones) rather than focusing on measuring it?
Think about it. If you are a smoker, the best “realistic” way (cold turkey is not for everyone) is to remove the dependence of cigarettes with specific moments: breakfast with coffee, after a meal, while reading, with a drink, etc. In addition to this, developing habits that don’t require cigarettes work great. For instance, if you go for a run, it works because you CAN’T run and smoke at the same time.
Let’s try this one last time. Instead of facing this debate from the standard POV of the smartphone world, let’s make an analogy.
Think about it. It’s cool to have a Mug that keeps your drink warm but really, Is it necessary to pair it with our smartphone through Bluetooth to adjust the temperature? We need to stop the “SMART” revolution.
Now, let’s go back to smartphones.
What’s the real problem? Well, basically the fact that we do everything with and on our smartphones.
You can run with your phone. There is nothing you CAN’T do while using your smartphone. That’s the REAL problem.
So, how can we face smartphone addiction and become digitally healthier? Well, there are no magic tricks. You are going to need to define activities that your smartphone is not involved in.
Let me tell you one; Have a conversation in real life.
Let me tell you another one; anything, just don’t bring your phone with you.
(Originally published on Medium)