How to Unhijack Your Mind from Your Phone
Tristan Harris
1.6K35

Tristan, this is some solid advice. I like how you’ve distilled your project’s objectives into a few easy fixes to get people started, and I’ve just reorganized my home screen according to your post.

I went on a complete hiatus from all of my devices recently, because I felt like I had lost control over them. It was such a breath of fresh air. I got more work done in that week than in the entire month before it, at the same time having far less anxiety issues. FOMO basically vanished. That said, it was a fairly drastic measure, and while I’d like to repeat it once a month, I do believe in tech and smart gadgets helping to make our lives easier and relationships richer, and want to keep using them.

So I agree that we need a middle path between the two extremes, and I think your approach just might be the way to go, but it’s not an easy one. This is a big task, getting an entire billion-dollar industry to rethink not only their design choices but also their business models. Facebook is just as addicted to our behavior as we are addicted to their apps. This is, after all, how they make money. As long as “maximizing shareholder value” is the premise that not only Silicon Valley, but pretty much the entire economy is built on, they’re going to go with whatever works best, and getting people addicted seems to be like the most profitable approach right now. Ethics don’t seem to be high on their list. Thankfully, shareholder value thinking looks like it’s on its way out, but we’re still a long ways off.

I see what you’re doing as part of a bigger movement to change the way a society with ubiquitous technology values itself and its time, and it’s important you keep going. But I’d be interested to see how you plan on approaching the money issue. Can you build a system that is more profitable, or at least on par with what we have now? Designers are usually quite open to rethinking ideas, but they’re not very good at selling them. I’ve seen a lot of good ideas crash and burn by the time they hit middle management. It’s the suits and VCs you’ll have to convince. What’s the plan?