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Community Can Offer a Cure to Our Technology Addictions

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A couple lies in bed, facing away from each other, staring at empty hands cradling invisible phones. It’s a striking image from the artist Eric Pickersgill’s project “Removed,” a series of photographs altered to remove the subjects’ devices. I discovered Pickersgill’s work while scrolling on my own phone, as disconnected from the world around me as the subjects of the photographs. These pictures made me nervous, and I suspect they went viral because they captured a common anxiety: Has our technology cut us off from more meaningful connections?

A recent study revealed that, on average, Generation Z checks their phones every three minutes. They are not alone: The average person touches, taps, swipes, or clicks their phone 2,600 times per day. Our attachment to our phones is at the center of the “distraction” critique of technology design.

According to this critique, clicks and status updates hijack our attention, and this perpetual distraction leaves us unable to focus on what truly matters. James Williams, the Google strategist-turned-University of Oxford philosopher, articulates this claim: “Because there’s so much competition for our attention, designers inevitably have to appeal to the lowest parts of us—they have to privilege our impulses over our intentions.”

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Thanks !

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