Cozy Fort

The Handcuffs of the Mind

An oft-quoted, iconic industrial leader once described the personal computer as a “bicycle for the mind.”1 In turn, services like Facebook are “The Handcuffs of the Mind.”

While I retain a modicum of gratitude toward these services for being able to connect with distant friends and family members, the current trend has been bothersome.

Our use of sites like Facebook interfere with the ability to accomplish meaningful things in our lives. We are paying less attention to those little beautiful moments happening right in front of us. That oblivious silhouette, hunched over a phone, underscores a disappointment in humanity’s modern achievements.

This is a collective effort2 to steal not only our most productive waking hours, but all of our time — even while on the toilet.3 As of this writing, there are over eight thousand people working at Facebook. There are tens of thousands more at other companies who use Facebook to drive our attention away to their own sites. They are converting countless engineering-hours toward the collection of everything we do, everywhere we go, and everything we know, in order to ploy us into buying that thing we never needed, or to recognize that brand that shouldn’t matter to us.

If you find yourself spending more than two hours per week on Facebook and where they link to, then a useful first step is to delete the mobile app (which, by the way, is the best conduit they have for stalking you.)

You just might notice how much more you get done in a day, or how much more sleep you’ll get overnight.

In the meantime, it’s long overdue for us to think about how to build effective tools that give us the ability to keep social media from stealing our precious attention.

  1. I am very certain that you know who I am talking about. [return]
  2. There have been writeups over the years, but here’s a recent one: “Getting hooked: How digital firms create products that get inside people’s heads[return]
  3. This should be familiar to all of us, but here’s an attention-grabbing article about it nonetheless. Study: Young People Love to Tweet From the Toilet [return]