A friend changed his profile picture. It now declares that he is gone from Facebook till the further notice. An Instagram celebrity decided to delete their Instagram app and reduce the usage of the service. In a private conversation, they admitted it was too addictive. A couple of co-workers announced that they would spend less time with tech and more time with kids. A few people from Tinder messaged me back with a significant delay, saying they were trying not to use the service that much anymore. The number of friends inquiring about silent retreats tripled from the last year.
It sounds like… any January. That month of the year when we still keep our New Year’s resolutions. But 2019 might be different for three reasons.
- Tech companies finally recognize tech addiction, and offer measures to prevent it. Last year, Apple and Google implemented “Screen Time” and “Dashboard” features to their operating systems to track and limit the time of apps use. Facebook and Gmail introduced variations of snoozing for certain items in their feeds. Instagram rolled out ‘You’re all caught up’ warnings, limiting app’s addictive infinite scrolling.
- Social media is not perceived as a safe way to share and connect anymore. Facebook has been losing its credibility and traction among certain groups of people for a couple of years now. More and more scientific evidence suggests that social media might cause axiety, depression, and unrealistic expectations. And it has long been a consensus among many Silicon Valley techie parents that technology was harmful to kids. Many parents have been restricting, or outright banning, screen time and social media for their children.
- People realize they need tech hygiene, just as they need one for their body (workouts, brushing teeth), mind (meditation) and spirit (whatever behaviors engage them with a broader web of life). App stores and product announcement boards are booming with distraction-eliminating tech. More and more services offer us forms of digital detox. They can keep us distraction-free completely, like Focus, Hold, and StayFocused for Chrome, or partially, like UnDistracted for Chrome, and Inbox When Ready.
So what does it mean?
My prediction is that in 2019 we’ll see a rise of time- and attention-conscious tech, like Calm Technology.
As we embrace living in an exponential world with our linear, ancient brains, we realize that our attention is a limited and easily influenced, and we become more willing to create (and demand) a new way of being with technology.
Alex Ivanov is a product designer and professional integral coach based in San Francisco. Recommend this article if you’d like to read more pieces like this.