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  • Markb

Addicted by Design

Are you in control of the decisions you make every day?

Do you control and benefit from your daily decisions? Most of us believe that we have complete control. This belief is one of the underlying assumptions that help us accomplish whatever we set up to achieve in our lives - what we eat, what we wear, how we exercise. And more importantly, if we are full of zest for life, curiosity, and creativity.

It is no longer conjecture but a proven fact that subliminal messages act on us every minute of every day, controlling our decisions, thoughts, beliefs, supporting or squashing our zest for life, curiosity, and creativity. We are losing control of what we believe, how we think.

One of the key influencers controlling these decisions is our phones and the technology addiction we have developed. We have become addicted to the perceived attention to us that it provides, plus the constant and mentally invasive messages and distractions it creates. Subliminally we all know this. But what we do not realize is the phone has made it easy to lose our individuality, sense of self, and zest for life, curiosity, creativity, and happiness. And this is especially true if we do not realize we have lost them in the first place.

Why have we become so addicted to our phones?

It is a fact that we welcome distractions. Especially those that can prevent us or, perhaps better said, in some situations save us from contending with challenges and concerns such as loneliness, fear, self-doubt, and insecurity. It is disconcerting that these distractions that are custom designed for each of us fuel our willingness to be distracted. The more distracted we are, the more we need those distractions. Have we unwillingly entered a Matrix? And does this lead to the inevitable loss of zest for life, curiosity, creativity, and ultimate happiness? (PS, I recently re-watched the Matrix movies. It is all becoming very familiar!). This phone addiction, this social media trap, is so deeply rooted in our culture that we have trouble pulling ourselves away and paying attention.

As far back as the 17th century, Pascal stated that "all man's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone." We can not stand on a street corner alone, waiting for the light to change without picking up our phone and taking control of that moment., in November 2019, published some staggering statistics about our use of our phones: These Stats of How Often You Use Your Phone Will Humble You. Here are a few of particular interest to me:

We tap, swipe, and click on our phones 2,617 times per day

We use a gadget 10 hours and 39 minutes on average each day

73% of us have experienced anxiety over losing our phones

85% of smartphone users check their phones while speaking with friends and family

87% of Millennials say their smartphone never leaves their side

But it is more than just being distracted that is feeding our willingness to be distracted. Our phones are designed to create this addictive behavior. The engineers of our phones, the games, Facebook, Instagram, etc., are continually studying our behavior. And the billions of dollars spent on this technology guarantee the success of the engineers. Engineers keep perfecting the hidden manipulative techniques to make sure these statistics get better and better, keeping us trapped in the lucrative 'attention economy' where the scarcest resource isn't ideas or talent. It is our attention itself. The more you continue this behavior, the more they control you, the more money they make. The less you are thinking for yourself.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once said Netflix number one competitor is sleep, "And we are winning."

But none of this is new news. I think we all know what is going on. Ashley Gentry, Managing director of Human Ventures Co., calls this 'The Broken Attention Economy'.

"Every time we get a notification, the brain releases a flood of dopamine as addictive as the reward signal a gambler gets as they pull the handle on a slot machine. What is it this time? A new text? Some emails? More followers or likes?" More Chocolate anyone? Does any of this sound familiar

I have recently watched the movie The Social Dilemma. It is frightening how deep-rooted this addiction is and where it has taken the world. If you have not done so, I recommend adding this to your watch list.

Can we break this phone addiction?

Our phone distractions are very real, addictive, and destructive. We contend with powerful and motivated businesses that want to make sure this addiction is so strong that we cannot pull away. Our natural zest for life, curiosity, and creativity are what they do not want us to feel. It is essential not to lose ourselves in these distractions.

Do you think you can easily put the phone down, break the addictive behavior, and focus on maintaining your best self? Unlikely! It is not easy to prevent the Broken Attention Economy from holding our attention and keeping us from maintaining our individuality, or zest for life.

How do we break free of that mold?

We do it one step at a time.

Googles Solution is to "set your phone to grayscale. The idea is to strip away color to make your phone less enticing. Without the flashy colors of the apps vying for your attention, your phone become a practical tool. You're less likely to get sucked into the mindless scroll simply because it's a less pleasant experience."

As it is Google's objective, along with every app you interact with, is to keep you on the phone as long as possible, I will continue to study the actual effectiveness of gray scaling.

I suggest something more tangible and real. Do you have a project that you have delayed or can not complete because you can't quite maintain your focus on it? A project that distractions like your phone are preventing you from moving forward. If so, I would like you to share what that project is.

And is there one behavior on that Inc list that you could change today that might help get that project started? Please share that with us as well.

Speaking of projects, identifying this phone addiction and fixing the attention deficit it creates will be a significant step in maintaining youthful zest, curiosity, and creativity and making our Bluerisa journey to a long, happy, healthy life possible.


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