August 6th, 2022, is the 3rd Global Day of Unplugging. When you read this, think about if you can put your phone down and stay offline for 24 hours. Many people think they can, but few people have the willpower. Are you up to the challenge? #globaldayofunplugging
It’s probably time to start paying attention to the rules. Inspired by the Silicon Valley ethos of moving fast and breaking things, many organizations have been rolling out technology without much concern for existing rules and regulations.
Uber, Airbnb, and the myriad e-scooter startups are on the back foot all over Europe as the state reasserts its authority. Even in the U.S., regulators have started to put their foot down. Tesla is having to reprogram 50,000 vehicles that were intentionally programmed to disrespect stop signs. If the car was driving slowly and couldn’t see anybody else around an intersection, it would ignore the stop sign and continue into the intersection. That’s illegal, but humans do it all the time. It turns out authorities were less than thrilled to see bad human behavior programmed into Tesla’s cars.
We have rules for a reason. Some of them are ridiculous (like the ubiquitous cooking consent), but good citizenship includes adhering to the rules until you can persuade the rule-maker to change them. Don’t be like Tesla.
Have you outsourced your thinking to your devices? That’s not a good idea. Surveys show that spatial awareness and the ability to read a map are both declining rapidly as everybody uses navigation apps to go anywhere. Now Apple is offering to similarly damage your short-term memory with AirTags. Since you will no longer have to remember where you put your keys, your ability to remember will atrophy.
If there are parts of your brain you are not using, the brain will repurpose that capacity for something else. You might not need to store a lot of facts because they are available at your fingertips at any time. But you should not let your ability to remember and find your way around disappear. Your mind knows that you are no longer able to survive on your own, and it weighs on your self-image.
Try going a few days without your gadgets. You will find that it is harder than you thought. And you will experience a sense of primal accomplishment by being able to live your life unsupported by a smartphone crutch.