I observed applications coming around when the Facebook app came in. We kept waiting eagerly for the red notification blip around the top right blue world icon. Understanding what an app provides us for free might cost us in terms of focus. It might cost us our attention that might have been used for good things to change for the better. Those continuous noises of apps notifications, bombarding us with their hard work and features, social awareness, and who is doing what.
Point of Distraction
Every app comes in with their own package of services, and most of them provide it for free, for the exchange of our data and behavior trackability. They usually use it to customize and serve the ads to us, keeping it more relevant to our needs, and sometimes not if you are not using the app actively. Whenever we install an app, it comes with a default option of providing notifications on our phone, and we do have the opportunity to disable them, but we usually don’t. And the notifications keep coming in, and it keeps disturbing our consciousness.
Intention v/s Impact
Honestly, we asked for this kind of seamlessness — everything on the phone, just a single click away. The power of convenience takes over the management of the human effort. I have taken illustrations from my daily apps that I use on a routine basis.
Convenience: An app for providing directions to any of your desired destinations, with live tracking telling exactly where you are.
Affect: Somehow our brain automatically shifts focus from our own perception of directions to google provided maps, then we tend to forget more & more.
Swiggy and Zomato
Convenience: Apps for delivering food from restaurants close to your place. Also, provides more details about a restaurant’s menu, rating, ambiance, and advance booking options.
Affect: Getting more addicted to ordering food (unhealthy) anytime I crave something or looking for dopamine.
Convenience: Any product delivered to your home.
Affect: When amazon is there, why should I go out to retail shops, leading me to become a lazy person.
Uber and Ola
Convenience: Apps for nondisruptive cab services on demand so we can reach anywhere we want to.
Affect: I seem to forget many directions, or maybe this is just me because I am bad at remembering directions.
Convenience: A collection of Apps for socially interacting with your friends and strangers, to be aware of them and how their day is going on. Another smart tool for marketers to target their consumers for advertisements and create.
Affect: I am used to getting compared and being socially validated, whether from my peers or any other stranger.
Convenience: An app that cures and simultaneously teaches you English within seconds, whether you are writing professional emails or putting up statuses on Facebook.
Affect: I tend to forget a lot of words and their spellings.
In this era, the smart ones suggest to take a digital detox or take a time out or stop using social media for mental peace. But digital easiness isn’t something that we asked for? When this digital world was non-existential, we dream about it, talk about the future, and how amazing it will be. But somehow, it backlashes on us. We did accept and incorporated it into our lives. Humans are habitual. If we do something consistently, we become used to it. That consistency converts into our needs. Example: Smartphones.
What I think is that balance can resolve everything. Acknowledging a proper balance between using the human body and using the apps righteously gives us more power to put our foot on both sides of the bridges. The digital revolution indeed came in for help and has been transformational for all of us, but how it can impact human behavior and how we predispose and percept things for others is just mind-boggling.
Giving more power to things like AI and machine learning can reduce human effort, but there will be a tendency to take over humanity and rule. I am aware that it looks delusional but just look around you. Half of the apps are doing the work for you, and half of them are already listening and gathering data about you to thrive better.
Find a balance between humanity and technology, and there you will find your pinnacle of success.