I needed to capture my story, to use my journals, notes, and data on how I wired up over the past decade and overcame some of my most significant life challenges using technology and in some cases creating new problems. While I conquered a lifelong battle with obesity, smoking, drugs, and drinking, I created a massive new issue with isolation, loneliness and a type of PTSD from my use of technology.
Yet once I understood where I was misusing technology, I didn’t unplug, instead, I looked for healthier ways to consume and use technology.
THE MINDFUL CYBORG
My own journey of digital enlightenment and mental wellbeing started in 2014 when I started a podcast and meetup called “Mindful Cyborgs” to address, support and spread tips on taking technology and wellness beyond the hype and unreality of digital detox, shock bands, and start to embrace what Tristan Harris and the Time Well Spent Movement were asking for.
The urgency to get "Don't Unplug -How Technology Saved My Life and Can Save Yours Too." in the the wild comes from two widely different dialogs entering the mainstream about digital technology and our health.
TECH COMPANIES WILL SAVE US
First Silicon Valley is waking up to the “problem” of technology and human well-being. Recently Google announced their digital wellbeing initiative and Amazon and Apple are starting to posture to be proponents of family wellness. Apple has been on the forefront of physical and mental digital wellbeing since 2014 when they released Apple Health and Apple Watch.
Are we to “trust” Silicon Valley with our bodies, and minds? Have these companies been good stewards of our wellbeing? Do we really need to download another app to stop using our phone so often? Is Orwellian surveillance on our smart device to help us "understand" our habits the right direction? My early opinion is that digital methadone isn’t an option.
The conversations we should be focusing on is what life is like AFTER our smart phones. Silicon Valley is heading toward a world where the screen that people squarely blame for their woes and dwindling attention spans is smack in the middle of replacing all visible signs of technology with tools that have no interface at all.
Amazon most successful piece of technology, the Echo, uses voice as it’s interface and Apple’s last two pieces of breakthrough technology have no screen at all, Apple AirPods and HomePod. Google is pressing full speed ahead with their AI initiative and even starting to promote their “smart” jacket partnerships with Levis with "upgrades" to the clothing.
How do we “fix” digital wellbeing in a world where there are no screens and we download invisible habits that seamlessly nudge us through the day?
TECH COMPANIES WILL DESTROY US
The second trend was mass media’s attention on the perceived "toxicity of technology". Open any browser, pick up a magazine you’ll find a story about how Facebook, your smartphone or AI is going to ruin your life. The media is in the midst of its own challenges. Disruption from platforms splintering readers, influencers grabbing views and finding viable revenue models that don’t alienate their readers with intrusive advertising in the age of ad blockers and browsers that spend more time in private mode than browsing.
Can we trust the media to be unbiased about technology and technology use in an age where so much of what is created for our consumption seems to be headline driven? Page view optimized and Socially engineered for sharing?
I'm not sure I am a good judge of our trust of the media and technology, I have benefited a great deal from both, but I do feel I am a messenger of sorts about how our world is unfolding.
I wrote this book because there needs to be a patient zero willing to come forward to talk about digital health, online friendships, and app-driven relationships. We need to be optimistic, open and hopeful as we look forward to the next 10 years. I’m here because I didn't unplug, and neither should you.