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← The Internet’s prison of procrastination | Le Dong Hai “DoHa” Nguyen | TEDxCATSAcademyBoston

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Showing Revision 32 created 05/06/2020 by Sebastian Betti.

  1. Hello everyone.
  2. Before I begin my talk today,
    I would like to do a small experiment.
  3. By a raise of hand, how many of you here
    are extremely annoyed by these symbols?
  4. (Laughter)
  5. Many of you, indeed.
  6. Before I go on to explain to you
    why I ask you to do this,
  7. I'm going to introduce to you a concept
  8. that really baffled me
    called the "productivity paradox."
  9. From 1971 to 2015, an era
    known as the Digital Revolution
  10. which introduced the Internet,
    personal computer,
  11. smartphone, and so on,
  12. while the number of transistors
    per microprocessor --
  13. which is a reliable indicator
    of technological capabilities --
  14. doubles every two years.
  15. At the same period of time,
    worker productivity growth
  16. actually goes down instead of going up.
  17. What this paradox tells us is that
  18. as technology becomes more advanced
    and more readily available --
  19. which should have supposedly made
    our jobs easier and more efficient --
  20. the marginal gain in our productivity
    actually decreases.
  21. So what actually happened
    with productivity growth?
  22. While there are many factors
    to be blamed for this decline,
  23. such as an aging workforce,
  24. there is one particular factor
    that really captures my attention,
  25. since I was also a "victim" of it,
  26. is addiction to
    technological distraction.
  27. You see, with a plethora
    of information accessible
  28. right in your palm,
    from irresistible clickbait
  29. like "Top 17 most shocking truth
    about blah, blah, blah.
  30. You won't believe number 9!"
  31. to Reddit threads, YouTube videos,
    Facebook hashtags,
  32. and "you may also like" suggestions
    at the bottom of every single article --
  33. we are being directed to an unlimited
    supply of mostly useless information.
  34. And before you even know it,
  35. it's already 11:00 pm and
    your assignment is due at midnight!
  36. (Laughter)
  37. You feel bad, work like hell
    to meet the deadline
  38. with mediocre work,
    promise to yourself
  39. that it would never ever happen again.
  40. And then we do it all over again.
  41. (Laughter)
  42. The bad news is it doesn't stop here.
  43. After I escaped from the prison
    of Internet addiction,
  44. sometimes I find myself haunted
    by images that I was once a part of.
  45. Images like a group of friends
    coming to a coffee shop.
  46. They took a selfie, posted to Instagram
  47. and then, silence, everyone
    was scrolling at their phone
  48. while sipping the coffee.
  49. Images like my classmate
  50. who ranted about 15 seconds of buffering
  51. and loading of his Netflix video.
  52. Images like a girl crying over
    her boyfriend's "late response" --
  53. "It's been ten minutes, and he hasn't
    replied to my message yet," she said.
  54. (Laughter)
  55. Or a guy screaming over a 15-second
    YouTube advertisement
  56. and keeps pushing the "Skip ads" button
    until his screen is broken.
  57. (Laughter)
  58. The problem is, it's not our fault.
  59. Every single site and app,
    from YouTube to Facebook,
  60. is deliberately and intentionally
    designed to be addictive.
  61. "If you're not paying for it,
    you become the product."
  62. Unlike a newspaper subscription,
    social media apps and online sites
  63. don't charge you a cent
    for using their products.
  64. Obviously, you still have to pay
    for the Internet fees.
  65. (Laughter)
  66. Anyway, they have an entire
    R&D team that is dedicated
  67. to maximize the time
    you spent on these apps.
  68. As Aza Raskin, the inventor
    of infinite scroll, himself said,
  69. "Behind every screen on your phone,
    there are generally like literally
  70. a thousand engineers
    that have worked on this thing
  71. to try to make it maximally addicting.
  72. It's as if they're taking
    behavioral cocaine
  73. and just sprinkling it
    all over your interface,
  74. and that's the thing that keeps you like
    coming back and back and back."
  75. Indeed, features like infinite scroll,
    instead of having to turn the pages,
  76. or real-time notification of everything,
  77. from likes, comments, mentions,
    trending hashtags, messages, etc.,
  78. are intended to keep you
    in a vicious cycle of impulses
  79. and to keep you stay in the apps
    for as long as possible.
  80. The more you use them,
  81. the more data they have about you
    to sell to advertisers.
  82. That's why you see advertisements
    about vacation deals on Facebook
  83. after searching for a flight on Google.
  84. By not giving your brain time
    to catch up with these impulses,
  85. online sites and social media are actually
  86. more effective than cocaine and alcohol
    in making you depend on them,
  87. according to a 2015 study by ASU.
  88. Similarly, recent studies by MSU
  89. also indicated that
    excessive social media usage
  90. can compromise our decision-making
    capabilities, similarly to drug addiction.
  91. This is extremely concerning considering
    that many young children nowadays
  92. are given access to Internet
    at a very young age.
  93. Technologies' capability of hooking
    young people
  94. by constantly releasing
    dopamine in their brain
  95. can create a new generation
  96. that is toxic, impatient,
    and unproductive.
  97. The good news is it's never too late
    to rehabilitate.
  98. While I may not be in the best position
    to give you specific medical advice,
  99. one approach that worked
    quite well for me
  100. is to designate a particular
    screen-free time.
  101. At first, it would sound very
    tough and counterintuitive,
  102. even futile, to resist this temptation.
  103. So it might be helpful to start small;
    maybe just 30 minutes a day,
  104. and then gradually increase it.
  105. I would suggest surrendering all of your
    electronic devices to a trusted friend.
  106. During this "screen-free time,"
    you can try to read a book,
  107. go for a walk,
  108. or even spend some minutes
    on meditation
  109. and allow your brain
    to quiet down and recover.
  110. The first step in every
    recovery process --
  111. whether it is substance
    or behavioral abuse --
  112. is to accept the fact
    that you are addicted.
  113. It would be a difficult journey,
    but remember, the rewards are worth it.
  114. By regaining control of your mind
  115. and escaping from the prison
    of constant distraction
  116. built by technology,
  117. we are also regaining
    the time and energy,
  118. those that can be used
    to finish our work on time,
  119. gain more sleep, hit the gym,
  120. call your grandmother or contemplate life.
  121. Thank you!
  122. (Applause)
  123. (Cheering)