Technology is not bad, it’s our inability to use technology well that is detrimental to our well-being. Recognizing this imminent problem upon us, mobile companies, including giants like Apple, Microsoft have come up with apps that will limit our phone usage. But one may wonder why would mobile companies who profit so much by keeping us hooked to our phones want to us use it less? Are they really good Samaritans or is there a hidden agenda?
The question we must ask ourselves is “have these companies ever been good Samaritans?” The short answer is “no”. In this cut throat competitive world, businesses, especially large businesses will never make a business decision that isn’t profitable.
If customers are accused or have been slowly nurtured to become a culture of “FOMO”, tech companies are also suffering from the same. With digital well-being taking the centre stage for a few years now and so many apps propping up to reduce or regulate our screen time, the big players don’t really have an option.
A closer scrutiny at some of the addictive industries (legal or illegal) in the world will show you the amount of legal and political battles they must endure to keep their businesses floating. Be it alcohol, drugs or cigarettes; there are heavy taxes levied on them, there are political campaigns rallied against the usage, there are social taboos that they must look to circumvent but is there any strong narrative against the mobile industry?
“If customers are accused or have been slowly nurtured to become a culture of “FOMO”, tech companies are also suffering from the same”
So what’s unfolding in front us is a brilliant business move. Tech companies understand well the psychology of an addict. An addict begins small, then his/her consumption grows over time till it one day he/she is destroyed and if fortunate to be still alive checks himself/herself into a rehab. Once fully recovered either does away with the habit completely or moderates it and in worst cases returns to the addiction and goes through the whole cycle again. Humanity has reached a point where they need to get into the rehab when it comes to digital consumption. The screen time limiting apps are nothing but mini rehabs that we go through every day. By introducing these digital well being apps they’re just prolonging your continuity in your addiction and not eliminating it. Elimination of addiction requires them to change the way they function, the way they track our every click and notify us. The moment you open your phone again, you will be flooded with the same amount of information, the same blast of notifications and the same dopamine surges again.
Let’s suppose that tech companies were our well wishers, our friends. Would a friend ever watch you get addicted and not try stopping well before the addiction takes an extreme toll?
Since we are in this tough situation we must make use of the technology and apps available to us to balance our digital life but perhaps it’s a bit of stretch to call the creators of this well crafted addiction as our well-wishers.