Is Your Phone Controlling You? Are 50 People in Silicon Valley Impacting the Decisions of 1 Billion People? PBS Discussion with Former Google Employee, Tristan Harris

It’s no surprise to realize that technology is effecting our lives, even the very way that carry out our daily routines. But, what we may not know or realize is the psychological effects that technology has. When PBS sat down to discuss the inner workings and designs of technology that all of us may be aware of, our smartphones, with former Google employee, Tristan Harris, he shared some interesting realities regarding the processes that go into designing this technology.

He gets right to the point by expressing, “I noticed when I was at Stanford, uh, there was a class called ‘The Persuasive Technology Design Class’. There was a whole lab at Stanford that teaches students how to apply persuasive psychology principles into technology to persuade people to use products in a certain way”. He continues to share, “It’s not about giving you all this freedom, it’s about sucking you in to take your time.” What some may not be aware of, is that, companies like Google, make much of their revenue from advertising. So, companies who are using certain websites and apps to show their advertising, want you to stay on certain pages for as long as possible in order for you to see their product, and make more money.

Harris points out how technology is now offering a “reality” that is quite contrary to the true reality that is all around us. “I often say that [technology] puts a new choice on life’s menu that is sweeter than reality.” He continues, “So, we’re turning to it more and more often. We check our phones about 150 times per day.” What we may never consider is the effects of the “constant scrolling” that many can attest doing when their phones are in their hands. One that is all too familiar with the “constant scrolling”, Harris shares about the effects it has on him personally, “I feel like, I don’t feel very good after that. I feel like my anxiety goes up. I feel, uh, more concerned about what I’m missing, what I’m missing out on, who I haven’t gotten back to. People think that I’m bad at getting back to them; all of this, sort of psychology emerges, all because of this one thing in my pocket.” Continue Reading…

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