• Patrick McAndrew

Take Responsibility for Yourself

I found a great article on Wired titled, “Who’s Responsible for Your Bad Tech Habits? It’s Complicated,” by Robbie Gonzalez.  In it, Gonzalez talks about the growing concern of technology taking away our attention and questions who should be addressing this issue: the government, the tech companies, or ourselves?

The government takes their time when it comes to these things and the same tech companies that have created attention-sucking apps are creating apps that can calculate a user’s time on their phone, how much time they spend on their app, and apps that make staying on your smartphone less appealing.

I come from the rein of thought that it is up to us to regulate how we use technology.  I don’t mean to go off on a tangent here, but we are often quick to blame the other party.  We don’t like to call ourselves out as the root of the problem.  We don’t like to take responsibility, even if it is taking responsibility of ourselves.  “Sure, I’m on my phone a lot, but if the tech companies didn’t create such addictive, soul-sucking devices, then I wouldn’t be in this position!  It’s all their fault!” Eh…I don’t think so.

While it’s good to be aware that smartphones and social media are altering our brains and behavior (and not for the better), it’s important to recognize our own abilities for self-control and discipline.  I liken this to any other positive habits, like working out, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep every night.

It’s super easy to not workout and eat delicious food that may not be good for you.  Eating delicious food is one of my favorite things to do, but I need to make sure I exercise self-control by not having cheesecake every night of the week.

Being on our smartphones is super easy.  It’s stimulating.  It can relieve us of boredom for hours upon hours.  It’s a convenient way to stay in touch with friends.  But, like exercising discipline when we eat, work out, or sleep, we must exercise it when it comes to our digital habits.  If we keep consuming and consuming and consuming, our minds will be lost and will turn to mush.

Overall, I don’t think diets work too well because they aren’t sustainable.  While a digital detox is a great idea for when we go on trips or vacations, we are still going to return to our devices and, before we know it, we will fall back into our old habits.  This is why we must develop new habits regarding how we engage with and use technology.  We must get rid of our consuming, time-wasting habits in favor of habits that will serve us well in the long run.  Sure, it may be difficult to start, but it will become much easier over time.

Big tech companies aren’t to blame for taking our attention.  They are a business and they need to make profits and be successful.  And I don’t know how the government can possibly regulate tech use for each of us.  If they regulated the tech companies, we would still find a way to fuel our fix with the new rules in place.  We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves when it comes to our tech habits.  No one is coming to the rescue.  We need to be our own superheroes.  So, put on your cape and spandex and save yourself years of time-wasting, endless consuming, and falling down the rabbit hole.

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