The addiction: That thing we made up is all Apple’s fault


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Technology addiction. You have it. Your spouse has it. Your children have it. Your dog has it. Your dog’s spouse has it.

Remember? Before you got addicted to technology, you used to do wacky things like throw dog weddings. This is why everyone was so happy when you got addicted to technology, Gail. Who wants to spend $50 buying a present for Sparky and Miffy’s wedding? Also, who registers their dogs at Sur La Table? It’s ridiculous.

Dogs can’t cook, Gail, we know you were just keeping the presents for yourself.

There’s a lot we don’t know about technology addiction, but the one thing we know for sure is that it’s mostly Apple’s fault. Apple created the modern smartphone, after all, and the modern smartphone is the source of all ills. Q.E.D. with jelly on it.

Apple, despite having a minority share in every market it's in (with the exception of smartwatches which no one argues are addictive), is also the company pundits expect to fix this problem. Back in January, The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo called on Apple to “build a less addictive iPhone”. Why, even former Google employees agree!

“I do think this is [Apple’s] time to step up,” said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google who now runs Time Well Spent, an organization working to improve technology’s impact on society.

Stories lamenting technology addiction are pretty ridiculous in what they seemingly laud.

…the founder of an Internet addiction clinic told me she avoids gadgets newer than three years old. She has never used her phone’s ringer, and deliberately “misplaces” her phone so she isn’t tempted to check her email. (I spent two months trying to reach her by email, and succeeded only when she happened to pick up her office landline.)

She’s practically unreachable! Take that, technology! [slow, confused golf clap]

The Macalope never answers the phone unless it’s someone he recognizes calling. But that’s not because he’s addicted to talking on the phone, it’s because he hates talking on the phone.

Everyone seems to agree that this is a huge problem and one that we need to lay squarely at the feet of Apple (and only Apple since the people who are so worked up about it have to leave companies like Google to do anything about it). Funny thing is, though, there’s a lot of evidence that technology addiction isn’t even a thing.

“Debunking the 6 biggest myths about ‘technology addiction’”

Christopher J. Ferguson says:

I am a psychologist who has worked with teens and families and conducted research on technology use, video games and addiction. I believe most of these fear-mongering claims about technology are rubbish.

But, pundits cry, using an iPhone stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, just like a drug! Yeah, well, guess what strip mall Freud…

Anything fun results in an increased dopamine release in the “pleasure circuits” of the brain – whether it’s going for a swim, reading a good book, having a good conversation, eating or having sex.

That’s not to say it’s all good.

Most of the discussion of technology addictions suggest that technology itself is mesmerizing, harming normal brains. But my research suggests that technology addictions generally are symptoms of other, underlying disorders like depression, anxiety and attention problems.

Something that you do a lot of isn’t necessarily an addiction.

People don’t think that depressed people who sleep all day have a “bed addiction.”


None of this is really out of the ordinary for coverage of Apple, of course.

Scholars sometimes make scary claims based on tiny data that are often statistical blips, not real effects.

Yeah, that sounds familiar.

Maybe, after all is said and done, the real addiction was to all the ridiculous, unfounded statements we made along the way.

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