We are engaged in perhaps the greatest unplanned experiment on people's attention that the world has ever seen.

 

There has been a quiet revolution underway for the past 10 years, and it involves our relationship with technology.  This is technology of the Silicon Valley type, which has slowly infiltrated our lives, capturing evermore of our time and attention.  It has become more and more deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, and the lives of our children.  The iphone was introduced 10 years ago, and since that time, Apple has sold more than a billion iphones that accompany us wherever we go.  We sleep with our phones; we take them to the bathroom.  The research suggests that we check our phones up to 150 times per day.  Our screens have transformed from televisions that sat dormant in a room, to devices that we carry with us and can watch anywhere.  Find yourself in any public space, and the likelihood is that people are not talking to eachother, but plugged into their phones.  More and more of our conversations take place through the emotionally-flat medium of texting.  We don’t know our friends phone numbers anymore, yet we spend hours upon hours curating our online selves through social media.  If we have a question, we ask Google or Siri.  Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Instagram,- these have all become part of our daily lives.  A startling number of us are showing signs of behavioral addiction.

 

These are devices so powerful, they change not just what we do, but who we are.
— Sherry Turkle, MIT psychologist, director of MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

 

And so the questions is this: are we actually choosing how to design our relationship to all of this technology, or is it re-designing us?  Do we fully understand that there are armies of highly skilled, highly paid people out there designing our technology to be irresistible?

 
  • How is our relationship with our technology impacting our children?
  • What does it mean, in our family system, that our attention can be pulled away from almost anything at a ring, a vibration, a ding?
  • Do we expect more from technology as we expect less from eachother?
  • Is our relationship with technology healthy?
  • Is it something we’ve consciously designed, or is it being designed for us?
  • How is technology changing our relationship to ourselves, eachother, and the world around us?
  • How is technology impacting our attention?
  • What does it mean for our public spaces that everyone is on their own headphones, in a private world?