Humane technology and why good behaviour is a problem

I am that age where mostly all my friends have a tiny tot or two, some older peers have teens. Absolutely every parent I know struggles with technology, or rather, how to prevent it from being:

1) misused

2) abusive – to health – both physical and mental, to relationships, studies / work

And, a whole lot of times, it’s not just about the kids. For most people, it’s also about their spouses, and friends, and colleagues at work even.

That’s why when I came across the Center for Humane Technology on the Net (  I was thrilled. Its foundational premise is that technology is hijacking our society. These people are the right ones to talk mainly because they have been on the business side of things – are ex-employees of tech companies that control our social media and other digital platforms on which we have come to rely almost completely for everything – connecting, network, business, shopping, entertainment, education, the list is growing.

Tristan Harris, its co-founder and executive director, in his TED talk here How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day  is all about how to focus your attention on things you want to do rather than fritter it away to the deadly addictive calls of your apps, notifications, social networks, et al.

He says tech could be transformative. It needs to work for the good of humans – our mental health, physical health, our children’s good, our societal good, and not act like a slot machine for these companies and their owners.

He knows that to do this, our entire set of parameters need to change. Human good, quality connections, are the metrics that our tech should be designed for.

Here’s why I think this won’t happen, at least not until people see the harmful effects of this inhumanely designed technology that is current – much like what happened with cigarettes and the smoking industry:

As humans, our education system used to be the tech platform that these companies have become today. Our education system never really looked at any of these metrics either. Happiness, our ability to keep a steady head, our ability not to fall prey to addictions that are life-negating – be it alcohol, drugs, sex, media, substance abuse, even the bad habits of cribbing and negative thinking, depression, etc., our ability to develop our self-esteem… and all of these things that truly matter, did not find mention anywhere in our curricula.

We measured our happiness and self-esteem in our achievements, which are usually about being better than others, our sense of style by the scale and variety of our addictions, our sense of well-being by the size of our homes and memberships to fancy clubs. We made things like depression, attention-deficit disorder, food disorders fashionable.

This education system cannot create individuals who value their lives and the huge opportunity it represents, cannot value their time on this beautiful planet of ours. It’s the value system that needs a change, technology will follow. And, we haven’t reached that stage yet, much like smoking and global warming.

That’s the difference between a life-affirming way of thinking and a life-negating way of thinking.

Whatever actions you are doing today, are those life-affirming for yourself and for those around/close to you? 

Or are they life-negating ones? 

If the latter, please ask yourself why are you doing it even when you know this.

Technology addiction should now be the least of your problems.

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