Laura I regularly speak with people who have zero children, or one child, or two children.
When using technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But I want you to show you where it might do the opposite. Where does technology exploit our minds weaknesses? I learned to think this way when I was a magician.
They play your psychological vulnerabilities consciously and unconsciously against you in the race to grab your attention.
I want to show you how they do it. This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask: You open Yelp to find nearby recommendations and see a list of bars.
The group turns into a huddle of faces staring down at their phones comparing bars. They scrutinize the photos of each, comparing cocktail drinks. Is this menu still relevant to the original desire of the group?
They miss the pop-up gallery on the other side of the street serving crepes and coffee. The more choices technology gives us in nearly every domain of our lives information, events, places to go, friends, dating, jobs — the more we assume that our phone is always the most empowering and useful menu to pick from.
All user interfaces are menus. Does it reflect what we care about? Turn yourself into a slot machine. The average person checks their phone times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making conscious choices? How often do you check your email per day? One major reason why is the 1 psychological ingredient in slot machines: You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward a match, a prize!
Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable. Does this effect really work on people? Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined. But in other cases, slot machines emerge by accident.
For example, there is no malicious corporation behind all of email who consciously chose to make it a slot machine. It emerged by accident. But now companies like Apple and Google have a responsibility to reduce these effects by converting intermittent variable rewards into less addictive, more predictable ones with better design.
Social Approval Easily one of the most persuasive things a human being can receive. The need to belong, to be approved or appreciated by our peers is among the highest human motivations. When I get tagged by my friend Marc aboveI imagine him making aconscious choice to tag me.
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Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat can manipulate how often people get tagged in photos by automatically suggesting all the faces people should tag e. But through design choices like this,Facebook controls the multiplier for how often millions of people experience their social approval on the line.
Facebook uses automatic suggestions like this to get people to tag more people, creating more social externalities and interruptions. Everyone innately responds to social approval, but some demographics teenagers are more vulnerable to it than others.
Social Reciprocity Tit-for-tat You do me a favor, now I owe you one next time.I take another personal day without giving a reason, an act of defiance that I fear is transparent.
I spend the morning drinking coffee and skimming breathless tech press, then creep downtown to spend the afternoon in back-to-back interviews at a peanut-size start-up. Rebecca Solnit, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of 17 books, including an expanded hardcover version of her paperback indie bestseller Men Explain Things to Me and a newly released anthology of her essays about places from Detroit to Kyoto to the Arctic, .
One evening over dinner, I began to joke, as I often had before, about writing an essay called “Men Explain Things to Me.” Every writer has a stable of ideas that never make it to the racetrack, and I’d been trotting this pony out recreationally every once in a while.
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