Categories: Digital addiction IRL

The Attention Economy to the Addiction Economy

Much has been said about the attention economy. Gamification. Tech addiction. But what happens when those things combine and form an addiction economy online?

Our ever-connected life has provided a lot of value to me. I’m better informed about the world and current events, I can use my smart-home to set my thermostat on my way home and check in on my dog, and I can talk daily with friends far away on any number of messaging or video-chat services.

The internet and incentives

But as we depend more and more on the connected devices in our lives, it’s increasingly clear that, like any tool, there’s a dark side to the technology we use every day. Apps and services — on a computer or mobile phone — have slowly (or not so slowly) made clear what ever-present attention costs us. The so-called attention economy rewards apps and services that we give our attention to. From a video game to a social network to a puzzle, the dominant monetization model is advertising. That means that if an app or service can keep your attention, they make more money. Of course, prioritizing advertising income has a price: users don’t like interstitials or auto-play video, and competing services are easy to find. Nor is advertising the only monetization model. But developers are increasingly good at getting their users to stay, watch ads, or pay — whether that’s rewarded with a power-up in a game, a surge of dopamine from an achievement, or a deluge of adorable dog content.

So what drives us to check our social media feeds addictively, or play a video game for hours, or reload cute animal videos all night? It’s all about the incentives. This attention economy drives apps and services to “gamify” — incentivize — often in subtle ways, engaging with them. A game will give you a power-up for playing daily. Social networks try to show you content that will get you to engage, ensuring that you stay on their site. Since this engagement drives the attention economy, the incentives behind these services are clear. It’s a logical outgrowth of the way that we incentivize content, services, apps. And that’s leading to true addiction. Recently, the World Health Organization actually classified “gaming disorder” as an addiction disorder in the draft International Classification of Diseases. Of course, not all tech addiction leads to something diagnosable or in need of professional treatment, but it’s always smart to be conscious of how and why we turn to tech.

When the internet was born, it wasn’t conceived of as a commercial venture. The internet developed in academia and the business world, not for a casual user. But as the internet has evolved, the monetization model has primarily focused on advertising. I doubt that was intentional, but creators have been incentivized to gamify and scale services quickly and simply, rather than creating quality content and designing for quality of life over immediate profit.

Gamification isn’t new. Some have argued that gamification mimics life — that is, success in school, a career, or a relationship are all kinds of gamification. Sports fans feel compelled to follow their team, knowing full well that it won’t impact their performance. And of course, games like the Sims (and many others since) explicitly gamify all of these things. But as people design online content and services, the incentives are aligned: attention drives monetization. And in that case, what’s better than compulsive attention for driving profit?

But short term optimization and focusing on attention will hurt the internet over the long term.

Services that depend on your attention for immediate profit are likely to backfire as people become annoyed with ever-present advertising or simply recognize their tech addiction and take action to combat it. A social media network only needs to present you with enough content on their platform to keep you scrolling instead of leaving their site, and will surround whatever you thought you wanted to see with other dopamine-generating distractions. And a video streaming website might judge success (including ad profits and revenue sharing with creators) by how long they can capture your attention.

Apps and services driving content creation online often don’t take into account what is good for the internet or the user — they simply prioritize driving immediate attention and engagement from users. When this content creation is outsourced to algorithms, it has mixed success. From Netflix’s data driven research to develop the massively successful House of Cards to the ill-fated bots creating disturbing kids content on Youtube, algorithms can isolate combinations of things that we humans like to engage with. The same goes with social media: newsfeeds like those on Twitter and Facebook use algorithms to decide what content to surface, based on the kinds of things you’ve engaged with in the past.

Designing services in ways that drive attention have created mindless, addictive experiences. Sometimes, a silly smartphone game is exactly what I need, after a stressful meeting while I head home on the subway. But when I turn to that same game at home instead of paying attention to friends, my dog, or my chores, I end up shortchanging my “real” life in favor of my phone. And being attached at the hip to your smartphone, for example, has been shown to be incredibly distracting. Having your phone nearby significantly impairs problem solving, whether the phone is on or not.

What if there was a way to incentivize rewarding and enriching experiences, instead of mindless and addictive ones?

There’s not a clear solution to moving away from the addiction economy. However, it’s clear that you can make changes that can benefit you. Being conscious of how you use tech and the internet is the best start. Thinking about how you use apps and services — whether it’s to relax playing a game, watch videos, or get work done — will help you decide how to manage your own online experiences. I have friends who refuse to carry a smartphone outside their professional lives. Others have a strict rule that in social situations — especially sharing a meal — there are no devices. I really appreciate that (and sometimes am the person at the table called out for checking my phone!). And I appreciate having folks around me hold me accountable.

Ultimately, we need to tackle this problem collectively through systems and incentives design. There are other ways to incentivize use of a site, but it seems that creating quality content is currently much harder (and thus less profitable) than repetitive content or a game that hits your dopamine receptors. What if there was a way to incentivize rewarding and enriching experiences, instead of mindless and addictive ones? As I mentioned earlier, monetization can be accomplished lots of ways — search engines, for example, often measure success by how quickly you leave, since the goal is to help you find what you’re looking for. And when they do that well, you come back — not spending a lot of time, but coming back over and over.

Big picture, creators — maybe you! — can think about how we responsibly create algorithmic apps and services that don’t abuse our attention. It might be a little less fun in the short term, but will keep the internet a healthy, global resource for decades to come.

Heather West is a Senior Policy Manager at Mozilla. She is a policy and tech translator, product consultant, and long-term internet strategist who engages influencers and builds campaigns to guide the intersection of emerging technologies, culture, and policy.

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Want More?

If you’re interested in learning more about the attention economy, check out Mozilla’s original podcast IRL: Online Life is Real Life. In IRL’s Paid Attention episode, explore all the ways your attention has become monetized on social media.

Tune In: IRL

56 comments on “The Attention Economy to the Addiction Economy”

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  1. William Huff wrote on

    Excellent questions!
    The fact that many of us are disgusted with how much and where our time is wasted on the internet would suggest that it is time for an internet service paralleling Alcoholics Anonymous. One thread of such a service might provide questionnaires and testing from which more productive, wholesome and restorative sites might be recommended. Such an outreach would take a lot of research and testing (perhaps even an algorithm or few) to become effective.
    As in any such program however, it would boil down to people recognizing that they need help and having a willingness to add a little discipline to their lives.

    Reply

    1. Bruh wrote on

      YES!
      Well wouldnt Mozilla be considered a thread of that kind? Can you elaborate?

      Can anyone on this comment board expand on this idea?

      Reply

  2. Pappu kumar Rana wrote on

    Good Morning, Sir
    Sir I have read your article, it is a good step , i appreciate it and also thanks for it. we have to think really on all it and something have to do all over it, it is a matter that can’t be avoided by any one for batter future of world of internet. i have a worry about it so we are with you.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  3. Hender wrote on

    Thank you

    Reply

  4. Andrew Hall wrote on

    Hi,
    I feel more relevant information about real threats/events is more important than hypotheticals….I have never heard of gaming or sims or whatever – and yes, I am over 50….so I might not be 100% on top of things but I feel I am overwhelmed as it is….
    I feel fake news, irresponsible or sensationalist journalism are the main issues….what is real is my point….quality news & real threats are important to me…..not bullshit phrases and catch words.

    Reply

    1. tcreid wrote on

      AH, Wish I would have written your comment. I couldn’t agree more. I like real, tangible, truth … you know the kind you can prove. Not what you SPLASH all over !!! Anybody can SPLASH ! Thank you.

      Reply

    2. Keith wrote on

      @Andrew Hall: I am considerably older than you, Andrew. I agree with you that quality news is important to me. But, most established news media like, for example, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, et al, produce quality news and content. Most of the so-called “Fake News” is being generated by right-wing sources like Fox News and other tabloid news sources and by Trump’s minions. If you don’t want “fake news”, we all have to pay more attention to well-established media–and not rely on single sources or on sources that pander to bias and to peoples’ preconceived ideas. We should all be looking at multiple sources that cover both sides of issues fairly.

      Reply

    3. Michael A. Peterson wrote on

      @Andrew Hall, you were reading about real threats and events, unfortunately just in terms that you were not familiar with because they are either not in the common lexicon (gamification, which by definition has nothing to do with games but sounds like it does), were passing fads (sims), or perhaps just aren’t your thing (cute dog videos). It doesn’t help that very exact words are often used loosely, for instance “they simply prioritize driving immediate attention” is not gamification, it is the utilization of game theory, which is not even in same psychological arena as gamification Your comment represents part of what perpetuates problems like fake news (which, to directly disagree with @keith, has nothing to do with political affiliation, the RP just got better at it faster), people don’t understand the deep psychological manipulation behind fake news because “gamification” sounds like a bullshit hypothetical (quoting you because I 100% agree with you) and we should be worried about the “real” threats.

      Game theory studies how people make complex multi-variable multi-outcome outcome-interdependent choices, and how different personality types prioritize perceived risk v perceived reward. Fake news uses game theory knowing that people are inclined to perceive a lower risk of deception if they read something in a credible environment (seeing a news story on your FB feed v just finding on the internet) or from a credible source (that’s why they make the links SO TEMPTING to share).
      Gamification is triggering the classic rewards that drive people to play games into non-game scenarios. As an example, I am a Google Local Guide. Posting reviews on about a business is obviously not Scrabble, but Google has set their guide system up to hit every reward center that a game would; connection, competition, recognition, etc. Social media is one big center of gamification, with multiple score boards (likes mentions friends etc) status, and socialization. If you post consistently you receive positive feedback (“great job, you posted 7 days in a row”, etc). Even signing up for a new account involves gamification; you can sign up with just a name and email but you are shown a percent of how complete your profile is, and what you need to do next (your next “achievement”) to get a complete profile (“high score”). “Sensationalist journalism” (again quoting you) flourishes in an environment that encourages so much sharing as most people will not thoroughly fact-check an article before they share.

      Sorry for the verbosity of this comment to you, but I felt that too often articles like this one use language that stop their readers from realizing what they are reading about, and I saw that in your comment.

      Best!
      ~Mp

      Reply

  5. Bob James wrote on

    To be accurate, initially the internet was developed for communication between government laboratories, such as NASA, etc.

    Reply

    1. Peopleunit wrote on

      – and university research. I can remember early on as I explored the internet, I thought ‘wow’ – to think that someone sat at a keyboard at some point and entered all of this information into a computer… mind-boggling if you think about it.

      The growth of data on the internet has grown by leaps and bounds since then, and I feel sorry for the hamsters that work at Google, trying to make sense of it all.

      Reply

  6. Eric Mauro wrote on

    Thanks for the article. There is an old web still there from 1998, we could call the info-web. You might search for a subject, and somebody put up an article about it back then, and it’s still relevant, nothing better has been done. That web is what the makers thought it would be and doesn’t really seem to need to change.
    The new web, advertising-driven, might be called the argue-web. It’s the opinions of my friends who don’t know jack about politics or sports or some other subject. The reason it runs on advertising is that the product (talk) is cheap. It’s not worth your earned money, it’s worth your distracted eyeball.
    To reduce addiction, reduce the impulse to be like others and to have what they have. Reason won’t do it though.

    Reply

  7. Drew wrote on

    Your Firefox has just updated itself, without my permission and without warning, and has wiped ALL my history. It is now impossible to restart my previous session and I have lost ALL the webpage I had open.

    I am so angry at you I cannot express it without swearing. How dare you do this to you. How dare you cause me all this stress and anger.

    I am so angry at you I want to delete your rotten program from my computer.

    What are you going to do about ALL this stress you have just caused me?

    Reply

    1. M.J. Kelly wrote on

      Hi Drew,

      You might be able to restore the session: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/restore-previous-session. Hope that helps!

      Reply

      1. Sarah wrote on

        Just to add some support to Drew, the update did that to me as well. I had at least 40 tabs open across multiple windows (I’m in school and was doing independent research). I now have to hope that I can somehow recreate everything I had open by combing back through my history (how far, I don’t know, some of the links had been open a while) and digging through Favorites as some of the links had already been saved. However, I’m afraid that over half of my research will have to be restarted. Since it was not for an actual assignment, I’m not freaking out, but I am definitely unhappy about it.

        Reply

        1. emme wrote on

          After that happened to me I began to bookmark “all tabs” into a new, dated research folder from time to time so at least I had backup bookmarks

          Reply

      2. Blu wrote on

        This is unsatisfactory as it requires the user to change their privacy settings to be more liberal. Having to make a trade off doesn’t solve the problem.
        Thanks.

        Reply

    2. Jon S wrote on

      April fools?

      Reply

    3. gamer wrote on

      lol u mad bro?

      Reply

    4. Sam wrote on

      The anger and stress you feel are inside of you, no one put it there but yourself and you completely have the power to take it out. Think about it, have a good day.

      Reply

    5. Mine wrote on

      Hi there Drew. Felt your anger likewise several times toward firefox and others. There are some ways to recover from old profile folders archived files, but firefox will not tell you and there is no standard tools or process to merge them with fresh new profiles. But even so you may be able to recover important tabs from archives files as I said. If it is importand and you do not want to risk failure, find someone who may recover your lost tabs from these archived profile files. I just wanted to give the tip as a help for you to proceed on yourself. As I said take expert help or learn to recover yourself in caos driven firefox universe, also with risking to lose. Hope you can anyways with proper backup precautions on each step awhile.

      Reply

  8. Jadwiga Bubel wrote on

    Im am happy with Mozilla

    Reply

  9. Owot wrote on

    Interesting and true. When I first thought about information over and under-load on the internet, I was concerned about the many uncensored medical products on the local market whose websites painted them as miracle drugs. With the so many people desperate for a solution to their challenge, the sales people for these products were having a field day.
    I estimate that more than half of the countries in the World do not have a good education system and therefore do not engage in any form of meaningful research. People in such countries are superstitious and are gullible, and therefore taken advantage of. Expecting responsible use of the internet or technology is a tall order, of course it always starts with ‘you’.
    My view of evolution is not the conventional transformation from ape to man, to higher man, but our ability to master changes in the age. Globalization has given free access to information, rights and perceived rights. However, our education systems have not evolved to take this into account. A good education may not take away the problem, but I believe it will foster more responsible use of technology.

    Reply

  10. Ry Note wrote on

    When the ‘net’ is MORE reliable than the MSN THEN it’s time for me to Swear the Heck that I want MY freedom to choose — and NOT some tech nerd choosing for me.

    Reply

  11. Jimmie Watkins wrote on

    I have not found a use for MSN and Ming has not been useful at all. Microsoft seems useful in bringing out new programs that are of little use to me other than taking out all the programs that have worked well for me and ming seems unable to do any better for searching. Most of computer users need helpful programs and we mostly get something that ties up the system. Thanks for those companies that are useful and please “GO AWAY” for the bad ones. !

    Reply

  12. Corvid Memory wrote on

    Here’s an idea: how about not flooding the “pocket” with liberal press and articles? Seriously, it seems like everything comes from HuffPost, WaPo, CNN, and so on. Tech has become synonymous with the left even though we on the right coined #learntocode (which will get you suspended immediately from Twitter). We code too.

    I would suggest anyone reading this to do a side by side comparison of search results for the same words between google and duckduckgo and you will be very very surprised…

    Reply

    1. Prakash Keegel wrote on

      Don’t know about HuffPost, but I’ve seen WaPo and CNN as conservative.

      Reply

    2. Sarah wrote on

      Hear, hear! Again! I got so fed up with Microsoft trying to shovel that pile on me, I got rid of the tile and News. I also disabled Pocket because of the idiocy it’s trying to push as “news.” Either post balanced news or none at all–you’re not fooling very many people any more.

      (Side note: the newest update got rid of my extensions, including DuckDuckGo and Dissenter, as well as losing my tens of tabs I had open for research.)

      Reply

    3. Paula wrote on

      I don’t think of information that I receive as “right” or “left”. I think about it as useful or not. If it is not useful I don’t click. What is useful to me may not be useful to another.

      I can not imagine seeing the world through an intellectual filter that says information is “right” or “left”. Solutions need be be found outside of polarized dogmas or our children will not have an Earth to come home to.

      Reply

      1. Bruh wrote on

        I admire your non-partisan way of looking at it and i agree, thinking of news sources too much in terms of ideological labels is harmful. It can make you overskeptical and paranoid.

        Unfortunately the ideological biases in the news are real and the news sources do not objectively, or even honestly, report facts–even when they seem to be doing so–and they have political agendas. While some sources on both sides are more credible, the propaganda is rampant for mainstream news sources on both sides. Some are more obvious than others but if you listen carefully, you learn that even some that put on a face of objectivity, like NPR, have strong ideological biases, and it seems to me, for even these too, a political agenda. And that bias, looking at the whole industry on average, tilts significantly to the LEFT.

        It is hard to fathom the extent of left-wing bias in the media, without exposure to some right-wing media. Probably most conservatives know this, since they have forced, everyday exposure to the ubiquitous left-wing news, as well as their preferred sources on the right. But to people on the left and to politically disinterested, average people that consume the news passively, i think most of them don’t realize it, except in contrast to Fox News, which is total garbage. When you do that, you start to realize how much of your “reality” is not actually real but a propaganda narrative you’ve been spoonfed for so long.

        The information we consume, in a very serious sense, shapes what we accept as “reality”.

        Reply

  13. John wrote on

    It is very true and meaningful at this time because in a country like India, where many of our newcomers to the Internet are getting addicted to it, either by watching some videos and TikTok/Dubsmash app. Jio disrupted Indian internet arena with latest 4G tech and very cheaper internet availability, with these other players are also in the ground for playing the same game. Now with this new surge in Internet availability and cheaper data, everyone is getting addicted to the Internet, Games or other social-media driven life. Living real life is often missed and kids are getting addicted to Youtube. I have seen many parents telling that my kid who is of one year old is able to Play videos on youtube and without it, he/she is not even having food. Such is the effect it brought. Moreover, it spoils kids imagination and getting to know the real world. It is a very right time to recognize the need for the real world and living in real life and set a disciplined approach for social media usage for oneself to have a fruitful and purposeful life.

    Reply

  14. rob wrote on

    LOL. re; it thrives on attention , its why getting wuuurse. Fake internet nuuze. Qanon.

    Reply

  15. JULIUS ELIAS NHELEGANI wrote on

    Make all efforts to make sure that, when the Firefox updates, should have an option to retain history and bookmarks

    Reply

  16. Mwangi Ikonye wrote on

    What I found interesting is that after a great article on my online addiction, I wasn’t offered real solutions on how to manage it. Instead, I was asked to Tune In to IRL. Sure, my addiction will be gone if I add just one more site to the list of sites am addicted to.

    Reply

  17. bren wrote on

    Yea there is a dark side to this article too, people trying to influence how you spend your time and saying the things you like doing are bad for you, which of course is bullshit and not proven. The good thing is we all have a brain and can make decisions for ourselves.
    What I want is choice not an algorithm deciding what I get ie a proper search engine not a rigged one . I can search for something on google but what I get is not want I want but what they want to promote cos they are getting paid or pushing their own political agenda.

    Reply

  18. Malcolm wrote on

    Me thinks the author lives in a twitter bubble.

    Reply

  19. Thomas wrote on

    Advertising media has taken over the world. The idea to sell, sell, sell.

    People were happy to get a Sears and Roebuck catalog in 1889. Mail orders were the in thing at that time. The catalog had a second purpose being more comfortable then dried leaves in the out house.

    When hydro made it in to the homes to power radios was the next media to force ads on the public. War of the worlds by Orson Wells must have been loaded with ads to buy products.

    Next was televisions that did get a government control of how much time an ad time should be.
    Between 1960 to now the time of commercials have gone from 1 minute every 15 minutes up to 8 minutes ever 4 minutes. The saying now is “I was watching a commercial and was interrupted by a movie.” The series called “MAX HEADROOM” was showing how TV station companies were in competition of how to push more selling commercials on to the public. Try and watch it if you can.

    Internet is becoming over blown with ads. Microsoft is pushing ads on you computer, Browsers are pushing ads, website are pushing ads. The donation begging puts me off. No one is paying me
    to keep me connected to the internet. The government is forcing people to do business with them by internet. You need to go to a library to use a computer to log your services.
    Cell phones ads drive me over the edge. To maintain my phone I need to pay out just as mush as my cell phone cost me.

    Driving or riding to see billboards, signs and now TV’s along the road is just nuts. We get charged for distracted driving but it ok to put more visual distraction along road sides.

    Myself am overwhelmed by all the advertising force at me. I’m ready to shut down and rid all electronic equipment. If I need something I go and look for it. 1% of ads have made me noticed of something didn’t know I needed it till I saw it in an ad.

    My opinion and mine alone, Adverting companies are the richest companies over Microsoft and the rest. They are very quiet about how rich they are. Microsoft is rich because of the new way to get ads to people. You can be rich if you think of new ways to get ads to the people like drones with banners behind them like planes pulling banners.

    I do believe we need ads. If you don’t distribute your resumes, no one will hire you. If you don’t advertise yourself, no one knows you exist.

    I can see children being so frustrated by all the carrots shoved at them but can’t have because of the toy commercials. They only understand “no you can’t have that” as they don’t understand what money is. The children grow up with the idea of “they can’t have that” they will never get it.
    Can you see the world is becoming to “The ones with everything are bored and the ones that have nothing are bored”.

    Reply

  20. robert e williamson jr wrote on

    Drew. Hello internet!

    The greedheads control everything. Until each one of us understands that our government is worthless to us as individuals and a threat to us as a congregation of society. Think not count how many nuke we have currently. Any institution that demands to authority to rule by the fear under the threat of destroying all earthly things is an institution that should be ought outlawed dismembered and buried.

    So much for the nuclear age. And then here comes moz://a asking for more data of each of us, to what end. An improved service they can charge us for. Yeah right.

    Drew I’m 70 and the youth of today need to understand that my generation blew it. Maybe it was too much of a warm fuzzy at the end of Vietnam. Everyone just wanted to go in peace and get on with their lives when what should have happened is we as a society should have demanded the Kenney murder files, the LBJ files, great stuff is now available from Ken Hughes LBJ tapes, the Nixon files and thee Ford White House files, or we wouldn’t go to work every day. Governments need revenue and nation wide strikes can get results. America needs to beware, vigilantly aware.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg is right it’s very difficult to rise up when the “man” has his boot across your throat but one must prevail or one is lost.

    Reply

  21. Mayor wrote on

    The content has proven very informative and enlightening. My experience with social media has very much been of blind addictions in many respects. For example, I would endlessly watch video after video even when I strongly feel that I need to stop and pay attention to more immediate matters like doing an assignment, cooking, doing laundry or having an early sleep on days I must rise early for work. This was utmost compulsive behavior. I also always feel for my phone even when its unnecessary. And worse, they are an easy escape for social situations that work for you when fully present. What I did not know was the brain chemistry leveraged by the Apps and social media service suggested. I hope my approach to use of tech changes henceforth

    Reply

  22. Benicio Galvez wrote on

    I think the beginning of this article is awesome, but then the finish is bland. Sure, it’s nice to say “why don’t we all get along?”, or “this is something we all have to fix together”. But it won’t happen out of initiative or even by incentivizing the opposite factors. It will only happen by dictum by an authority when things get really bad. Look at the British government cracking down on internet abuse. Sometimes common sense has to be imposed by the force of politics.

    Reply

  23. Mark Pulley wrote on

    It is fortunate that organisations such as Wikipedia and Firefox exist to combat the relentless aggressive marketing from monolithic companies like ebay and Amazon. Addiction is the need to continue a behaviour despite being aware of its negative consequences, which businesses home in on. Psychopathy is not caring about the consequences. If businesses such as these were human they would be diagnosed as ‘psychopathic’. The only way to control psychopathic behaviour is international legislation. Remember – despite their sometimes ‘compassionate’ image, promoted by their PR (such as BP) they are money hungry monsters who will stop at nothing to achieve their aim.

    Reply

  24. jessica wrote on

    happy April fools day!!!

    Reply

  25. Mike wrote on

    It’s up to you, the collective you’s that care about this issue, NOT to use the so-called ‘social media’.

    I won’t and never have used Twitter and I tried Facebook but it made no sense to me. All this ‘Friends’ business I found invasive and obnoxious.

    Mind you, I’m in my 70’s so not a typical user. I have gone steadily off using the ‘net since the late 90’s when the rot began. I can remember how it seemed almost a sudden thing, that ads and payola sites started popping up like mushrooms.

    I’m even considering reverting to a landline based BBS system like I used before the internet when I ran one on an 8 bit Timex-Sinclair at a smoking 300 baud!

    The article raises worthwhile points but belabours the obvious a bit. If you don’t like it, do what I do, use ad blocking and stick to two or three friendly sites which cover your interests. Oh and as for games? Never could stand ’em, won’t even look at one.

    Reply

  26. Teresa wrote on

    I am surprised at the low reply to your article, 15 people bothered to reply. Maybe those prone to addition use more grazing on the internet, can you be sober but still be “not there” to your family. Yes. As far as real life versus being online playing games, as far as what I observe, it is very close to those who watch “their” tv shows each week. I prefer not having a tv on unless it is a movie, I used to include the news only that has taken a strange slat even on local stations so I would just rather not, so I don’t. Whatever you chose to do in your life is real life, weather you decide to immerse yourself in computer games or drinking yourself to death, each person chooses, advertising doesn’t play that large of a role, I am sure some would love to think it does, no.

    Reply

  27. Vineet wrote on

    You’ve fallen victim to the phenomenon that you claim to stand against. The link that materialized at the bottom of my browser ended with a clickbaity statement:

    “Tell us how we can help.”

    which leads to regular article (with links to other articles), with a comments section at the bottom. So it’s really not about getting user input, but getting on your blog.

    Scale this up to everyone who wants eyeballs and you end up with the mess we’re in.

    Reply

  28. R.J wrote on

    I believe that if people do stay attached to a device, they may become brainwashed of the entire world around them. in fact, over 70% of accidents happen with someone who was using a device!

    Reply

  29. Frederick wrote on

    I quit The Facebooks. I found it a mirror, and decided to cancel my narcissism.

    Reply

  30. Rachael wrote on

    Prescient article, it’s becoming a more obvious zeitgeist, to try to get away from the smartphones most of all – I choose a flipphone and still wrestle with accidental addiction with a handed-down smartphone ( had an Apple i4 years ago and decided to go back to flip-phone after 2 years because being always on the internet meant I could try to never have silence during which I might have to confront unwanted feelings, and again I realize I have done this again with the hand me down smartphone. I briefly had instagram on the device and after about two months realized I had been spending a great deal of moments looking at the device or thinking about looking, or posting. So I deleted the app, knowing I can still use it with more restraint/less pleasure by using my laptop. ) Re: The old internet – I still love most of all the html pages I find where the writing is the content, the actual information is of merit and its presentation is incidental to the technology. I like EFF’s “deep links” and other long form treatments and I’ve really become weary and distrustful of the pr0nographic expectations of even the most rudimentary site. I grew up writing geocities pages with gifs from harrythecat.com and that was totally cool to me as a middleschooler. “Social media” has really gotten gross, so toxic at its core even when you mean the best, in part due to the frequency of updates required to pass as legitimate or alive to the algorithms and what not. Smart phones+massive/addictive social media apps+coffee are norms in need of skeptical look. Additionally, all the data of all the cat videos and selfies etc. exist on and communicate between energy-hungry techno-infrastructure. We can’t see the direct effects of our data, but it takes up space and uses natural resources simply to exist. It is not actually in a utopic cloud… Thank you.

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  31. jim hoyle wrote on

    More useful articles about when to speak up at meetings.

    Less marginal interest articles like Slaughterhouse 5.

    Reply

  32. Sanuel wrote on

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and teaching us how to use the web properly (and how it should be)! I have learnt to not use the phones and computers all the time and especially not to use apps with a lot of ads or use an add just because it has a lot of ads going to you all the time.

    Reply

  33. Stephen wrote on

    I am not like you or millions of others, i use four pop up blockers, have no mobile phone, no gps, I cannot turn anything on or off remotely and i do not want this crap. I have a landline phone which 50% of the time i disconnect or just let the dam thing ring.
    I am not a slave to any phone or this computer.
    I put my drivers license and cards in a microwave for ten seconds and fry the chips.
    I am thinking of having my one old suv reprogrammed to stop the tracking software in it.
    I know people who have gotten rid of everything including their computers and who bought older classic cars with no tracking. They merely go to the local library of college and use those computers with made up names and passwords not their own.

    Reply

  34. Leon wrote on

    “the ill-fated bots creating disturbing kids content on Youtube”

    The linked article does not say bots are creating these videos, but that youtube is linking to them from legitimate videos.

    Reply

  35. Mister Spike wrote on

    The “attention economy” is certainly very disruptive of many people’s lives. Allowing apps to dominate our conscious lives, and to interfere with our sleep, can be very harmful.

    I’ve been reading about this issue for several years. You can imagine how dismayed I was when Mozilla first built “web notifications” into Firefox a year or so ago.

    Now, seemingly every website I visit wants the privilege of sending me junk on a regular basis, to try to attract me to their website in the hopes of generating some advertising revenue.

    I am NEVER interested. I NEVER want any website to be able to send me alerts. It should be very easy for me to change my Firefox preferences to completely disable this feature, but it isn’t.

    It is possible to disable the web notification feature using “about:config”, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

    Reply

  36. Aarthi wrote on

    I am glad to have come across this article. Its not that I am addicted to the internet and my devices, and despite not being addicted and not being manipulated by the system adversely, I ended up getting a text-neck condition and its painful. Too much attention being taken away by interesting apps was perhaps a cause in my case, but even the useful ones caused me this condition. I’m not sure how apps and the businesses that drive them will change this rising problem, but it is certainly that’s been properly brought to the general attention by this article. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  37. Mine wrote on

    Around 900 hundred tabs left open now and then and it becomes more impossible to manage without tab organisation, navigation and query tools. Thus tabs gets more and more stacked on a spindle Zeitalter quadro thinkpad to have a chance to get rid of most of them left open tabs. No one wants to lose important references altogether in an accident, unselectively. All browsers urgently need cloud based universal bookmark merging and management and tab management and transfer standards to handle everything essential in a live, clean and standard way.

    Reply

  38. James wrote on

    @Andrew Hall &Co

    To paraphrase someone more famous – “You couldn’t handle the truth”

    Reply

  39. Ian Hakes wrote on

    Thanks for this very good piece. I have to admit – there were plenty of distrations that worked hard at keeping me from finishing it! But it speaks volumes about what choices we need to make as technology consumers.

    Reply

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