by Subhaditya Mukherjee
Notes on the book.
The key word in this memory is novelty. Facebook didn’t arrive in our world with a promise to radically transform the rhythms of our social and civic lives; it was just one diversion among many.
When the iPhone first shipped in 2007, there was no App Store, no social media notifications, no quick snapping of photos to Instagram, no reason to surreptitiously glance down a dozen times during a dinner—and this was absolutely fine with Steve Jobs, and the millions who bought their first smartphone during this period.
Describes the modern hyper-connected existence as one in which “a moment can feel strangely flat if it exists solely in itself.
Why they use Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, they can provide you with reasonable answers. Each one of these services probably offers them something useful that would be hard to find elsewhere: the ability, for example, to keep up with baby pictures of a sibling’s child, or to use a hashtag to monitor a grassroots movement
technologies as a whole have managed to expand beyond the minor roles for which we initially adopted them. Increasingly, they dictate how we behave and how we feel, and somehow coerce us to use them more than we think is healthy, often at the expense of other activities we find more valuable. What’s making us uncomfortable, in other words, is this feeling of losing control—a feeling that instantiates itself in a dozen different ways each day, such as when we tune out with our phone during our child’s bath time, or lose our ability to enjoy a nice moment without a frantic urge to document it for a virtual audience. It’s not about usefulness, it’s about autonomy.
“How is that a slot machine?” Cooper asks. “Well, every time I check my phone, I’m playing the slot machine to see ‘What did I get?’” Harris answers. “There’s a whole playbook of techniques that get used [by technology companies] to get you using the product for as long as possible.” “Is Silicon Valley programming apps or are they programming people?”
connections between you and another person can impact how you feel about each other. “If you find out you have the same birthday as someone who does something horrible,” Alter explained to me, “you hate them even more than if you didn’t have that information.”
this longer treatment that not only seemed particularly relevant to our discussion, but as you’ll soon learn, repeatedly came up in my own research on how tech companies encourage behavioral addiction: intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval.
information. It tends to be these early, pre-feedback-era features that people cite when explaining why social media is important to their life. When justifying Facebook use, for example, many will point to something like the ability to find out when a friend’s new baby is born, which is a one-way transfer of information that does not require feedback
“We’re social beings who can’t ever completely ignore what other people think of us.” This behavior, of
Our Paleolithic brain categorizes ignoring a newly arrived text the same as snubbing the tribe member trying to attract your attention by the communal fire: a potentially dangerous social faux pas.
to optimize the tech, or search out a better option. By working backward from their deep values to their technology choices, digital minimalists transform these innovations from a source of distraction into tools to support a life well lived. By doing so, they break the spell that has made so many people feel like they’re losing control to their screens.
bypass the junk
clutter, optimization, intentionality
cost measured in how much of your life you are spending : Thoreau
optimization : diminishing returns