Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 3rd 2017 Contents B18 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 3, 2017
How to stop your
How long do you think the average work email
goes unread? Ten minutes? Five minutes? One
From Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology
and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked: "In reality,
70 per cent of office emails are read within six sec-
onds of arriving."
Yes, Houston, we have a problem. Instead of im-
proving our lives, technology is increasingly getting in
the way of enjoying our lives. And the biggest source of
trouble is that device that's with you wherever you go.
I figured it was time to call an expert for some advice.
Adam Alter is a professor of marketing at NYU and
author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technol-
ogy and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
Some might say that they're not addicted to tech-
nology---they just enjoy it. But those same people
probably say things like, "I wish I had more time to
do the things I love." As Thoreau once said, "The price
of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
Well, people average three hours a day on their
phones. In the pre-smartphone era that number
was just 18 minutes. And what happens when you
ask young adults if they'd rather have a broken bone
or a broken phone?
Are we really phone junkies?
Phones aren't drugs. So why do we get addicted?
Because addiction is not about pleasure.
If it was, you would literally be addicted to choco-
late. Think about it: thousands of people have surgery
every day and are given very strong painkillers. But
exceedingly few become addicted. Why?
Because addiction is about soothing psychological
distress. It's using something to cope with a problem
Here's Adam: "You only develop an addiction when
there is some psychological motive that hasn't been
fulfilled for you: loneliness, that you've been bullied,
or you can't make good things happen in your life. It
doesn't actually matter what you use to soothe that
addiction, whether it's playing a particular game that
lulls you into a distracted state or whether it's tak-
ing a drug. In terms of soothing those psychological
ills, behavior and substance addictions are very, very
We live in an age of anxiety. And phones can soothe
that anxiety. But they can also add to that anxiety.
Some researchers refer to smartphones as "adult
pacifiers." We get cranky, bored, or distressed and
the pacifier soothes us.
Okay, so what do we do about it? Well, Adam has a
few tips from psychology we can use to get a handle
Don't say "can't"
When you make the commitment to change, tell
yourself, "I don't check my phone more than once an
hour" as opposed to, "I can't check my phone more
than once an hour."
Here's Adam: "Don't" is a declarative statement
about what kind of a person you are. When you say
you "don't" do something you give yourself the power
to have made the decision not to do that thing. When
you say "can't" it feels as though some external force
is telling you you shouldn't be doing this thing. The
way human motivation works and the way human
decision making works is that we do much better
when it's something that feels like it arises within
us. We don't like being told what we can and can't do.
Proximity Is destiny
When you don't absolutely have to have your phone
by your side, put it somewhere you can't easily reach
it. Across the room is a good option. (France may be a
better option but let's keep it simple for now.)
Here's Adam: "Turn off the "ding" sound when
you get a text message so that instead of your phone
saying, 'Hey, check me now,' you decide when it's
time to check. You're removing the control from the
Research shows that people average three hours a day on their phones.
phone and you're bringing it back to yourself. You can
also take the apps that are most addictive for you, and
bury them in a folder on the fourth page.
But you're gonna screw up. We all do. Once you lift
your slave master, how can you make sure you don't
lose another hour of your life? (time.com)
• Continues tomorrow
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