Tech turmoil drives consumers to their ‘digital life’

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly meeting with a top British official after the British government released a report accusing the social media giant, and similar companies, behaves as a “digital gangster.”

The Digital UK, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said in the new study that Facebook had “intentionally and knowingly” broken the law on the privacy. The british report and other recent studies on the influence of technology in modern life contribute to a greater awareness of the consumer, and a desire to better manage the use of digital devices.

In the latest episode of the podcast, Hemmer Time, Bill Hemmer spoke about all of this and more with NYU Stern Business School professor and social psychologist Adam Alter. Adam is also the author of “Irresistible: The Emergence of Addictive technology and the Business of Keeping Us Addicted.” (March 2017).


Bill first spoke to Adam two years ago, and he asked what the biggest change in the world of technology since the last time they spoke. “The consumers of the screens are much more cautious now about how they consume,” Alter said, adding, “We pay a lot more attention now to how we spend our time.” Change of the opinion that the consumer is more aware and is driven by a recognition of, “how many of these companies had surrounded us and hooked us in to spend every free minute on their platforms.”

Alter described how some online behaviour that makes people feel less happy is the most addictive. “A lot of the things that made us feel unhappy to have a very strong social component, where you feel obligated either to ‘like’ the posts of others, or you post things, and you want people to love what you’re doing,” he said. “All of them have that ‘bottomless’ aspect … that leads us to spend much more time and makes us unhappy.”

Change the time to spend with families, who have asked for his help, and he offers practical solutions, including:

  • Understand “Stopping Cues”: “A ‘stop cue’ is a kind of a soft suggestion of the screen that you would want to do anything else … most of these programs do everything they can do to prevent this ‘stopping of the signals.'”
  • “Holy places”: “Families that much trouble to have absolutely no limits … the first thing you do is say: ‘Let’s build in a sacred space in your day, that is screen and tech free.'”
  • Turn your smartphone into a dumbphone: “I spend most of the day with my phone in airplane mode … I don’t want the phone to be able to communicate with me, but I want to be able to go with the phone if I want something.”

Change also describes what the companies are doing to help their employees, including a car company removes the e-mails of employees, who are on vacation.


Listen to Bill’s conversation with Adam Alter for a lot more on improving your “digital life.”

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