Is it any coincidence that the race to the bottom in media—toward clickbait headlines, toward the vulgar and prurient and dumb, toward provocative but often exaggerated takes—has accelerated in lock-step with the development of new technologies for measuring engagement?
Increase Your Web Traffic And Decrease Your Quality With This One Weird Trick!
I live in Austin and my fuckwit texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sponsored this lovely bill. I’m glad that for all their hard work, they both got a little side bonus from ISP lobbyists out of the deal. In total, $8,121,535 was donated across the house and senate to make our representatives continue to ignore their sense of ethics and vote for a bill that rolls back basic online privacy rights.
Do you feel any better about your fellow Indianan Mike Pence?
He only got elected because he looks like The chair-throwing, longtime Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball coach. Bobby Knight. Jeez, Pence scared the hell out of me. There was a therapy …
Conversion therapy. There’s debate about whether or not Pence actually supported it.
Yes, conversion therapy. That’s when I just thought, Oh God, really, Indiana? I don’t care if you’re a fundamentalist Christian — even they have gay relatives. They can’t be saying homosexuality is a sin. It’s horseshit. Then this transgender issue that just happened, I just think, Are you kidding me? Look, you’re a human, I’m a human. We’re breathing the same air. We have the same problems. We’re trying to get through our day. Who the fuck are you to throw a log in the road of somebody who has a different set of difficulties in life?
Q. What makes you think that people have become addicted to digital devices and social media?
A. In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones. Where teenage boys sometimes spend weeks alone in their rooms playing video games. Where Snapchat will boast that its youthful users open their app more than 18 times a day.
How do you define “addiction?”
The definition I go with is that it has to be something you enjoy doing in the short term, that undermines your well-being in the long term — but that you do compulsively anyway.
But those two months I did nothing but play Crossy Road—that was just time well spent.
We’re biologically prone to getting hooked on these sorts of experiences. If you put someone in front of a slot machine, their brain will look qualitatively the same as when they take heroin. If you’re someone who compulsively plays video games — not everyone, but people who are addicted to a particular game — the minute you load up your computer, your brain will look like that of a substance abuser.
It’s 2017, and I subscribed to a physical newspaper. It gets delivered to my house every morning, and the first thing I do when I wake up is sneak out my front door in my underwear to get it.
In this time of fake news claims, pundits, and echo chambers, I thought it was important to support some real journalism. But instead of simply adding the NYT to my phone and getting a digital subscription, I decided to try out the physical paper.
I have to tell you: this was the best decision.
I’m reading things I never would have stumbled upon otherwise, and having an item that exists in the physical space that shows up five days a week has been a great way to interact with news, rather than having it be one of many notifications on a screen.
Seems like we can’t go two minutes without our phones buzzing, trying to pull us away from whatever we were doing to instead look at a screen.
This started out innocently: as a way to let you know that someone was personally communicating with you; a figurative tap on the shoulder through the magic of the internet.
BZZZ 📲⚡️ A friend sent you a message
But at some point this snowballed into us defaulting into allowing the entire world to tap us on the shoulder in the middle of family dinner.
BZZZ 📲⚡️ A friend sent you a message!
BZZZ 📲⚡️ West Elm is having yet another sale!
BZZZ 📲⚡️ An acquaintance of yours just tweeted for the first time in weeks!
BZZZ 📲⚡️ Oops! You forgot to compulsively check a meaningless app today! Did you accidentally let real life distract you?
BZZZ 📲⚡️ A spambot just added you on a social network!
Not only is that just annoying, but it’s partially responsible for actually changing our brains, which I will demonstrate to you using this simple test:
I went to a programming meetup the other night, and they were running a contest for OSCON tickets—”tweet as us and mention OSCON and we’ll randomly select someone at the end of the night who will win a badge to the OSCON conference”. I hadn’t even heard of OSCON, but apparently it was an open source developers conference right here in Austin TX. ANNND the tickets were pretty expensive. “A valuable prize”, I thought.
But I hate whoring my twitter feed out, tweeting at things and mentioning brands. I follow people that have no problem with it at all, and maybe I should just relax. But nah, I don’t do that.
So I wanted to make the tweet funny enough to stand alone, and spent the duration of one of the less interesting talks crafting this gem:
Last call-in contest I won was in 1989 after mishearing what the prize was (a perm). Hoping this @RefreshAustin#oscon giveaway is legit.
Turns out the whole “randomly selected” thing was misleading, and it was more like “we’ll pick the one we like best.” I got chosen, won the badge, and had to tell the audience how 9 year old Jeff called into the radio without hearing what the giveaway was, and then got on the air and found out he won a perm. True story.