A technology temperance movement

Point Well Taken

By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Admit it,” says Ross Douthat.
“You are enslaved to the Internet.”

If you’re like most Americans, your existence is increasingly dominated by a compulsion to check email, Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram “with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.”

That’s because our devices and the wondrous functions that they can perform “are built to addict us”—to give us dopamine hits of outrage, ego reinforcement, arousal and distraction. In return, we sacrifice our privacy, our attention span, our focus on our familiars and our awareness of the natural world.

“The smartphone is in the saddle and it rides mankind.” To take back some control, we need a “digital temperance” movement. As with other intoxicating substances, use of the Internet should be restricted by both custom and law.

Restaurants and museums should require people to check their phones; corporations should prohibit employees from checking emails during meetings; elementary schools shouldn’t use computers at all.

If this sounds extreme, please note that Silicon Valley’s overlords send their kids to schools that ban all tech.

“Only a movement can save you from the tyrant in your pocket.”

As reprinted from May 11, 2018 issue of The Week magazine.

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