The Magic of Technology

Tristan Harris’ work, How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind—from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist, explains not only the extreme dependence the general public has on technology but also the strong need and desire to stay connected in fear of missing out on opportunities or news. He further explains this in a Ted-Talk as he describes the psychology and analysis that occurs behind our screens to ensure that our eyes remain glued to our phones. As he studied the intricacies and mind-tricks of magic as a child, he correlated his findings and research that came from working as a Google Design Ethicist with the concepts of visual tricks and mind-manipulation that are utilized in magic. The article explains how people rely on technology in all aspects, whether it be choosing a bar to drink at or having the temptation to open your phone when a notification appears on the iPhone home screen. Additionally, some of the concepts he explains are ‘Social Approval’ and ‘Social Reciprocity.’ These themes touch upon the urge and compulsion to post, tag, or comment on one’s own photo or a friend’s photo to ensure acceptance and leverage in the digital community. “We are vulnerable to needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it.” Harris continues to explain how social media sites make it extremely easy to view other people’s profiles, comments, and posts, and how one feels obligated to reciprocate in terms of communication. This idea relates greatly to Jessica Contrera’s work 13, Right Now; This is What it’s Like to Grow Up in the Age of Likes, Lols, and Longing. She explains this same phenomenon as she observes the life of a 13-year-old girl fully immersed in the technological world of social media and digital devices:  

“‘See this girl,’ she says, ‘she gets so many likes on her pictures because she’s posted over nine pictures saying, ‘Like all my pictures for a tbh, comment when done.’’ So everyone will like her pictures, and she’ll just give them a simple tbh. […]’ ‘Happy birthday posts are a pretty big deal,’ she says. ‘It really shows who cares enough to put you on their page.’”

The teenager and her peers are accustomed to living their daily lives according to the images and identities they have displayed on social media. There is a notable infatuation with technology that runs rampant in society that is becoming transgenerational as more time passes. The elder generations of our time are growing increasingly more immersed in the technological world, while the newer generations are being thrown directly into this digitally revolutionized atmosphere. As Tristan Harris’ work emphasized, the eternal dependence we have on our devices stems from the psychological reliance we have on our iPhones, iPads, and laptops as a result of the big-shot companies controlling our screens.

  3 comments for “The Magic of Technology

  1. October 3, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Great post Renee! I happen to find a deep connection with this post. I feel that even though I post what I want regardless of the likes I think I will get, I sometimes still find myself checking how many likes, comments, etc. there were underneath it. It’s sad, but that’s just today’s society, everyone has different expectations for themselves. Your examples said it all, how many times teenagers will post something saying “like this and I’ll do this” just for the amount of likes, but why? I don’t understand this concept because they are not liking it out of enjoyment, only because THEY will get something out of it. Great job!

  2. dylan barry
    October 4, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Renee your post made a lot of sense when I thought about the use of Instagram. When you talked about Social Approval it made sense when thinking about what people post online. Nowadays people will post pictures to make other people jealous and think that their life is so much better than everyone else’s. Also, when you talked about how the newer generations and how they are being thrown into this technological world, it made me think about what it is going to be like when I have a kid.

  3. October 4, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Great post! You talked about the whole “Social Approval” concept, and that is something I think we can all relate to. We want to be accepted by others, and sadly, getting a lot of likes is seen as being accepted by peers. I saw this whole “Social Acceptance” idea when I was an intern at an elementary school. I worked closely with many students and started to notice how much time they spent on Instagram and Snapchat. Even though they’re only 10 or 11 years old, they still complain when someone loses a streak with them, when they don’t get over 100 likes on Insta, etc. They get mad because they are losing these small things, that today, decide whether you’re “cool” or not.

    -Big E

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