Mike — Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry I didn’t more clearly state my intended message in the talk. Let me try and address some of the misunderstandings.
1 — “You’re saying technology is only a problem for people who are addicted”
NIR: Not sure where you heard that. I say in the video that addiction is just one problem out of many including technological distraction.
2 — “people who are addicted, and those are the people who want to stop. This is contrary to loads of psychology research on addiction.”
NIR: I’m not sure if I understand your point here but it sounds like you think I said that all people who are addicted to a product want to stop. I never said that. I said that it’s unethical for a company to continue to profit from customers they know want to quit.
3 — “By your logic, if the cigarette companies just asked smokers, “Do you want to smoke?”, and an individual says “yes”, then all is ok. I’d say, wrong… Smoking kills, and thus society needs to tax & regulate cigarettes and educate individuals to reduce the smoking population to a minimum.”
NIR: You’re putting words in my mouth. I never said “all is ok.” I said that companies who know someone wants to stop using the product have an ethical obligation to help them stop. I am all for education, taxation, and even regulation of cigarettes. The two arguments are not mutually exclusive.
However, I’d like to add that at some point you must admit that there’s an element of personal responsibility here, even with smoking. I would be shocked if you could find many smokers in America who don’t know smoking is bad for them. They know. But in a free society, we should have the right to consume certain things that are bad for us.
Too much TV, romance novels, marijuana, sugar, and internet use are all bad for us, but most people, over time, stop using or moderate their use of things that have harmful negative consequences (unless they are actually addicted). The vast majority of people who’ve tried a cigarette or experimented with drugs in their youth, are not addicted. They quit when they decide it’s not good for them for one reason or another.
4 — “time on social media is correlated with depression and anxiety. Social media is addictive and not good for people.”
NIR: Lots of things we use in excess are bad for us and lots of things are potentially addictive (even Q-Tips, see: https://www.nirandfar.com/2... The point of my talk was to figure out how to deal with the negative consequences of this generation of technology.
5 — “You think technology is “not hijacking our brain” yet… you purchased a physical device so that you can automatically turn off your modem every night to protect your family? Are you really going to stand up there on stage and say “all these tech companies are cool, but… just in case I physically prevent my family from accessing them for more than X hours/day”.
NIR: I think you need to watch my talk again. I clearly said that these technologies have many positive AND negative consequences. The price of living in a world with so many great things is that some of these things have costs we need to be careful of. That’s the point of the talk. Humans have always come up with new technologies to fix the bad elements of the last generation of technology. What’s the alternative? We want to continue to enjoy the benefits of tech use and we need tech companies to continue to make their products better. Finding ways to put technology in its place by using other technologies is exactly what we will do. That doesn’t mean tech is hijacking our brains. In fact, our ability to rationally resist proves we are not powerless. Only believing you’re powerless makes it so.
6 — “people smoke less … because of a prolonged multi-decade multi-pronged effort of regulation …”
NIR: I never said these weren’t helpful and part of the solution. I said that the reason people don’t smoke in the home of non-smokers (when this used to be the norm) was because it is no longer socially acceptable and we can do the same for tech use.
7 — “Your answer is that people should power off their internet at night? What % of people do you think will go through the effort to do that?”
NIR: My answer is that we need to do many things to put tech in its place, including power off at night. What makes you think people won’t take these steps? This is what historically always happens when society learns of the negative consequences of a new technology.
8 — “I don’t say it’s your fault, but don’t stand on stage and pretend it isn’t happening … By being in denial that there is a problem (that you are a part of), you are preventing us from moving to the next stage. A true and honest discussion of what to do about this problem.”
NIR: Pretending? Denial? My talk was about the negative consequences of technology! Why do you think I got on stage in front of 1,000 tech industry people? This IS the “true and honest discussion of what to do about this problem.”
Let me know if you can think of what else I can do to facilitate the discussion besides talking about the problem (https://www.nirandfar.com/2..., writing about the problem (https://www.nirandfar.com/b..., and providing solutions to the problem (the video on this page).

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Author of “Hooked” and “Indistractable.” Want to overcome distraction? Get my free 80-page guide to becoming “Indistractable” at: NirAndFar.com

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