Are We Addicted To Technology? Alex Pang On Digital Distraction
One reason, Pang says, is that technology changes so quickly that a new device is on the market before we've fully gotten a grasp of the capabilities of the previous generation. The novelty factor makes us obsessively interact with our digital gadgets. Another reason is that studies show that we experience a "dopamine hit" in our brains every time we get a new email or social media message. It makes us feel good to make a virtual connection with someone. Finally, a third reason he provides as to why many of us are glued to our digital screens is the "social expectation that we have to answer email quickly or answer text messages from friends or from kids." "That contributes to the sense that we have to stay online because, after all, other people are online," says Pang. If we are plugged in around-the-clock, many of us feel that we might miss something. And, he notes, companies are making use of this addictive quality to craft products that hook your attention.
While he admits that these digital devices do stimulate addictive behaviors that can potentially distract us from important tasks, we can also use new technology to become more focused and more productive. In his book,
The Distraction Addiction, Pang explains how we can redesign our relationship with technology. Using what he calls 'contemplative computing', Pang blends new scientific ideas, philosophy, and tried-and-true tactics for managing attention to take control of our digital lives.