Consciousness stirring in the Silicon valley: those who got you hooked are trying to get you kick the habit?

Published: 22 June 2018

Data management scandals, a CEO testifying to the US Senate, EU data protection pressure and the prospect of European taxes – just a handful of challenges that the greatest social media companies must face. Multinational tech firms are trying to regain the trust of users with social responsibility – at least that is what the recent Google and Instagram announcements hint at. New telephone modes, user self-scrutiny and activity monitors set to be introduced.

Google intends to regulate the time devoted to mobile use with the new features of its next Android update. For example, they are introducing a new Shush mode, which turns off all notifications except vital announcements, on mobiles turned screen-down on a surface. Additionally, they are launching the Wind down mode, which shifts the screen to a gray tone from a user-determined bedtime, so the blue glow of screens would not hinder the production of melatonin hormone that assists sleeping. Users can also check which application they spend the most time with and by making the necessary settings, the device can warn us to take a break. Instagram is also introducing novelties: the Usage Insights menu can confront us with our addiction, displaying how much time we spent scrolling through our images. Thus, it seems that we are receiving assistance in finding a way out from the deep forest of our digital addictions by those who took us there in the first place with subtle psychological means.

An increasing amount of research indicates that we are in at the deep end: symptoms similar to drug use, depressive dispositions, sleep disorder, a lack of empathy and growing narcissism. We check our phones 150 times a day on average, whilst 89 percent of young adults have experienced phantom vibrations (mistakenly sensing vibrations in their pocket) and they demonstrated that it takes 23 minutes for us to focus back on our work after a single distracting beep or our phone. It seems like we are in greater need of regaining our digital awareness than ever before.