Everyone will agree that the human brain is one of the most fascinating organs in the human body. The three-pound mass has many neurons and consumes around 20% of the body’s energy. The human brain is the command center of the body. It is what makes it possible to carry out all the daily functions.
However, it is not perfect. It is capable of being a victim of tech stress. Especially during the pandemic, when everything is connected through the internet and technology. Even though it is true that technology has brought a lot of good development, but technology is hijacking your mind. Tech stress or technostress is the negative psychological impact of introducing new technologies at work.
Recently, Tristan Harris, an American technological ethicist was working on how technology is hijacking your mind to make more money. Harris has spent the last three years working as a design ethicist at Google. There he has been focusing on how to design technology in ways to prevent tech from hijacking your mind. He always looked for an answer for “where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?”.
Tristan Harris learned to think this was like a magician’s act. A magician always tried to focus on people’s blind spots so he/she could influence them without them realizing it. This is exactly what tech companies do. In this article, we will talk about ways using which technology is hijacking your mind.
Below are the points of the technology hijacks people's minds:
When you are given a choice on a menu, you might have observed that you rarely ask questions about what is not on the menu.
The best way to understand this is by using an example. Let’s think about how the Yelp website or the app generates its recommendations when you are looking for a bar to go on the weekend night. This does not imply that the choices of bars given to you are not good. But it’s just that your initial intention to find a bar has been narrowed down into what the site can offer.
Most of us end up surrendering our abilities to make our own choices to the simplicity of having technology provide the choices for us. Hence, our minds have been hijacked by our phones through the sites of tech companies like Google, Facebook, etc. That is why we need to question whether the choices being provided are aligned with your true desire or not.
If you build an app how will you keep people hooked into it? Easy! Just turn your app into a slot machine. Researches and surveys claim an average person checks their phone 150 times per day. Why do we do this? Are we finding something useful every time we check our phones?
The answer is no. However, that 150 times, some of the time when we check our phone it is doing something useful. This is how technology hijacks people’s minds. It encourages us to keep on checking for that one time we find what we need or something useful.
Tristan Harris claims that to maximize addictiveness in an app, technology designers insert “intermittent variable rewards”. It’s like you pull a lever and get a reward. And does this technique work on people? According to Harris, the answer is yes. He says that slot machines make more money in the US than baseball, movies, theme parks, and all combined.
According to Harris, Our Minds Have Been Hijacked by Our Phones. Various Apps and websites convince our mind that if we do not check our phones or at least the notifications, we may be missing out on something important.
They do this by convincing us that they are the most important channel for relevant information, connections with friends, or other potential opportunities. Once we are convinced that a channel or network is important for some key piece of information then it is difficult to unsubscribe or delete your account.
Most of us are vulnerable to social approval. We all want to feel we belong somewhere, be approved by others, and be appreciated for who we are. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media apps and sites trick people into giving this social approval by suggesting friends tag in photos. This is not done through a conscious choice, but this is how technology tricks using artificial intelligence and recognizes people important to you, and suggests tagging them in photos. Technology designers know people are vulnerable to social approval and use this vulnerability against us.
Social reciprocity is just the opposite of social approval. Here people are vulnerable to reciprocate when someone does something for them. Tech companies manipulate this by building social obligations for people to respond.
No matter how hard you try to prevent tech from hijacking your mind, it will always find a way to overcome it. An infinite feed is the best example. To keep you interacting with the product, the tech companies continue to show even more similar content of your interest after you have finished.
Youtube automatically plays the next video once you have finished watching the current one. Not just youtube but apps like Facebook, Netflix, even Instagram now plays a video automatically in your news feed. Such features are often released claiming to increase the user-friendliness of their product. It is true. The result is that you will spend more time using their app, increasing the money they made from advertising products to you.
Technology is Hijacking Your Mind by using push notifications. It is an easier way to get your attention than the messages being delivered to your email inbox. Tech companies end up increasing your feeling of urgency and social reciprocity.
Apps usually tend to build an initial user base. This user base is created by helping you to perform a task. Once an app reaches a critical level of scale, they shift from helping people to performing that task to maximize their overall time spent in that app.