It’s an unspoken truth.
Our focus is f**ked.
Pick your poison — TikTok, Instagram, Netflix, Tinder, Facebook. We are consumed uncontrollably by these apps, and really our phones in general. We’re all guilty of it.
How did we get here?
There are 2 popular arguments. It is true that:
- Big tech is incentivised to maximise the time we spend on their apps, and they are really good at making products that can do that. They have armies of engineers and AI algorithms who are overwhelmingly favoured to win any battle of attention with any individual.
- We should be setting up habits and safeguards to make ourselves less distractable while using technology.
But let me entertain you with some matching hypotheticals:
- Even if all technology companies were incentivised to make positive, attention respecting products -> no-one would use them
- Even if some of us could avoid distractions better -> our minds are not perfect, so we would still be susceptible to lapse at any moment in our hyper addictive environment
The missing piece is making focus easier than distraction.
We have been too problem focused, not solutions focused.
“If more information were the answer to life we would all be billionaires with six pack abs.” — Derek Sivers
Understanding the problem only gets us so far. So many people now feel defeated by their phones and simply give up on ever improving their tech relationship.
The real problem is…
- How much effort it takes to focus on the long term beneficial things (work, family, friends, exercise) vs the short term pleasurable things
- There is no seamless superstar tech experience that makes controlling attention just as easy as losing it via instagram
What does the solution look like?
To get to a future where we are all in control of ourselves, independent, productive, creative, happy members of society we need an innovation in both economic incentives and also our brains.
The only way I can see this kind of change happening is through consumer tech products. The way we think has been evolving for tens of thousands of years but even 1000 hours of meditation cant stop you from being addicted to TikTok. Unfortunately we can’t just will our way to a better future.
No. Better technology is the only way to fix our problem with technology.
Technology solutions with the goal of increasing consciousness and focus. Products that are designed with tech to optimise for how we spend our time in the long term.
If you think a lot about digital wellness and/or are trying to find or build a solution we should chat. People work best together. Please reach out to me, or share this article with someone else who cares.