Are Apps designed to kill ?

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Are Apps designed to kill….? our creativity, our attention spans, our enthusiasm for life? Let’s find out.

NEHA

When we are on our phones, we definitely spend most of our times on apps. Calls, yes we do call people, clients, managers, but apart from that, it’s time spent on WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the unlimited news apps plus the father of everything, on google. So, what is it that makes us spend all this time on these apps?

Wen tis ws cool-

Remember the time when SMS was a thing, where most of us would send those short messages, usually typed – lyk tis to sve space n luk cool. From sending SMS on our Nokia dabba to living our whole lives on a smartphone, we have come a long way, haven’t we? But back then, we would use our phones only when someone replied to our SMS or for setting an alarm or for the obvious- to make calls. But now, we use our phones when we are bored to see what other bored people around the world are doing.

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We probably haven’t even given two thoughts about our app usage before the pandemic. Now that we have time on our hands, we are (probably) more conscious of our time being spent online. Take a moment before we continue and really think about the top 3 apps you spend most of your time with ? Hate it or love it. It doesn’t matter. What matters is we must acknowledge they influence us more than we can imagine. 

NEHA

So, what changed?

Well, basically this thing called play store/ app store came into existence. And they are designed to kill. They want you to spend as much time as you can on screen, they collect your data, your preference and bam, without your knowledge you are being fed content you want, which leads to more screen time. It is an endless circle.

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Even tiny kids are victims to these apps. It is one of the most heated debates amongst parents on how much screen time should be allowed.

Children under the age of 5 are perhaps more vulnerable to spending excessive time with electronic devices

World Health Organization

NEHA

Heck, I can’t even type a line filled without mistakes now, it gets those red and blue lines underneath, making sure I change it to the right spelling! I installed the Grammarly app to help me type properly, but it has taken over. I now type any crap, it corrects, it even rephrases my sentences and makes it spot on. My dependence on the app increased so much now, and my usage of my brain, well, reduced. I stopped bothering about how to spell anything right. It’s an example of apps, designed to kill my brain.

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Neha you’re really not alone in this feeling of it killing your brain. We have Tech billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates who didn’t allow his kids to use a phone until the age of 14. Then we have celebrities like Justin Bieber. Tom Cruise, Elton John, that chick from fault in our stars don’t even own a phone. Yeah, they are rich and famous, they definitely their assistants and secretaries to contact them. That’s not the point I’m trying to create. The point is maybe phones are designed to keep you addicted, maybe even hampering our creativity. And on shortening our attention spans, definitely for sure, and killing our optimism, 100%. Don’t believe me Ed Sheeran went off the grid for a year just to be more productive!

NEHA

Back to Advertisements

OH yes, the holy grail of the app world. Without ADs there would be no free app, and without free apps, there wouldn’t be screen time. So ADs are essential in keeping us glued to our phones. You search for a pair of shoes, tomorrow while scrolling through Facebook, it shows you more ADs of shoes, you scroll through Myntra, your Instagram shows you more clothes, and you probably have a high chance of clicking that link and visiting the page of more shoes. Another endless circle right?

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Cambridge Analytica Scandal

I couldn’t agree more. An extreme example would be how apps like Facebook indirectly influence us in more ways than we know or like. Back in 2016, Facebook changed the course of the US Presidential election. Apps like Facebook run on data provided by us. A company known as  Cambridge Analytica specializes in analyzing the personality traits of people thereby influencing them to vote.

In the 2016 US Presidential election, Cambridge Analytica was running Trump’s data operations. Trump’s team paid psychology professors to use his app to gather data he collected to analyse personalities. The app was intended to  basically predict your personality, and few thousands downloaded the app immediately

Now in this day and age, who manually inserts data? You just use Facebook or Google to sign up. The same happened, the users who wanted to predict their personalities signed up using Facebook. Things got messy when the app copied information not only from people that downloaded the app but also of their friends without prior consent.

This was the largest data breach the world has ever seen. Like I said, this was an extreme example of the apps literally influencing us.

NEHA

It is advertisers who pay the free apps, so the more they show, the more money they make. As for the advertisers, the more the ADs they show, the more audience they reach, more buyers they might have.

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Social Dilemma Documentary

Last year I watched a documentary titled, Social Dilemma that brought a wide variety of tech experts from Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Pinterest to talk about how these tech giants are using algorithms to retain and gain new users, to keep us hooked! Unbelievable right.

NEHA

So how do we get out of this?

It is tough, I know. My fingers want to open that Instagram page, but once I distract myself with other work, I get busy writing, reading, building a shelf or cooking, I automatically stop looking at my phone. Get busy, uninstall that app, see the birds fly, plant a herb garden. The choices are endless, and here is the best part, they are YOURS to make.

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We are fed apps that are customised to hook all of us individually by targeting our preferences, influencing our voting choices. So are the choices really ours to make ?

Our devices have never been more powerful, and people have never been so desperate to escape them through “digital detoxes” and “dumb phones.”Unplugging is the rallying call of our time. Turn off, tune out, drop out. The rise of “digital well-being” makes it look too easy. It’s a way to rebrand tech as something that’s good for you—but it only treats the symptoms, not the underlying disease.

Sameer Samat Google’s VP for Android and Google Play.

So that for you ladies and gentlemen was Google’s VP , if he can say that then we are truly up the gum tree.

So, again how do we get out of this?

Just a sneak peak to what’s coming next

Coming soon

In the coming articles we will discuss more in depth about how different apps influence well being.

Photo Credits

Bibliography

  1. Celebrities And Screen Time – https://www.businessinsider.in/slideshows/miscellaneous/14-celebrities-who-limit-their-childrens-screen-time-and-tech-use/slidelist/72942367.cms#slideid=72942391
  1. Google’s Definition of Digital Well Being https://www.wired.com/story/google-and-the-rise-of-digital-wellbeing/

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