With the emergence of the social media and the internet, addiction to technology has become part of our lives. More often than not, we get a thrill every time we open our social media pages to see notifications, compared to the feeling we get from playing scrabble with friends and family. That said, two ex-employees of Google and Facebook have launched a campaign to tackle the addictive nature of technology, dubbed The Truth about Tech.
Behind the scene of this campaign is Roger McNamee, a former backer of Facebook and Tristan Harris, an ex-design ethicist at Google.
The Centre for Human Technology warns that technology is “currently hijacking our minds and society”. Although Facebook has consistently reiterated that the platform is primarily designed to bring the world closer to connect people together from all over the world, the organisation thinks this purpose has been defeated. It says that it aims to “reverse the digital attention crisis” and “realign technology with humanity’s best interests”.
In response to the campaign, Facebook responded:
“We know Facebook, and the industry more broadly can help bring people closer together through technology… It is a responsibility we take seriously, particularly as we think about younger generations. These are important discussions and we’ve already taken meaningful steps.”
So far, the campaign has received support in the sum of $7m from non-profit media watchdog Common Sense media and plans to focus its attention on students, parents, and teachers about the dangers of the extreme use of technology on the society and our general wellbeing.
Its major targets are social media forums like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, which it says on its website “are not neutral products” but rather a “part of the system designed to addict us”.
The talk about the ills of social media is not new as evidenced in certain health report from professional who opine that too much time spent on social media has some adverse effects on mental health and total wellbeing. Moreover, a group of 100 child care experts has called out for the ban of the messenger app for kids. YouTube is not left out in this saga. The app for kids has also been criticised for portraying unsuitable videos for kids.
Former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya expressed guilt in December over helping to create a technology that is “ripping apart the social fabric of how the society works.” Apple investors in January urged the tech giant to react to the case of addiction in younger children.