Is Your Smart Phone Stealing Away Your Soul?

By: Dwight Bain, LMHC

Brain hacking is what they call it; the engineering of behavioral code into an app or website to program you into getting "addicted" by the psychological process of continually checking a smart phone.
Is this real? Yes.
Is this legal? Yes.
Is this going to stop? No.

How is this possible you may wonder? 60 Minutes journalist Anderson Cooper found experts to answer that question in a very revealing TV special about the programming process that is commonly used to make you check your smart phone at least 150 times per day, with some people checking their phones over 1,000 times per day!

You can watch the television interview to research this for yourself, but may not need to. Simply watch people around you in a restaurant, at church, in the car next to you in traffic or standing in line at the market.  People young and old are acting like addicts with their phones or tablets and if you try to take it away from them they get mad, if you point out they might be addicted they deny it or get very, very mad… just like any addict would react.

The experts interviewed openly talked about how Facebook and Instagram are programming codes to make you and your children addicted to social media. Yes, I said Addicted. In the same television special it was revealed that Google does the same thing. (You can watch a rebroadcast of the special here, but be warned, it might make you mad).

Tristan Harris, who is a former Google Product manager and openly questions the long-term consequences of brain hacking, said, “Whenever you check your phone… This is one way they hijack people’s minds and create a habit, to form a habit. This design technique can be embedded inside of all these products”. (Like Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat)
When Anderson Cooper asked if Silicon Valley was programming apps or are programming people; Tristan said, “They are shaping the thoughts and feelings and actions of people. They are programming people. There’s always this narrative that technology’s neutral. And it’s up to us to choose how we use it. This is just not true. Technology’s not neutral- It’s not neutral. They want you to use it in particular ways and for long periods of time. Because that’s how they make their money. Look, never before in history have a handful of people at a handful of technology companies shaped how a billion people think and feel every day with the choices they make about these screens.”
So what can you do when multi-million dollar corporations are programming code that makes you and your children addicted to technology? Simple.
Unplug the technology.
How? NRT.
The process of unplugging is what I call “NRT” which stands for doing the “Next Right Thing”. For some people that is to turn off the technology completely. For others the next right thing is to read a book or play Legos with the kids, or go to the gym, or listen to music, or journal, or adult-coloring book, or any other creative activity that stimulates and opens the brain, instead of being locked into a particular website or app.
You could take the dog for a walk, or volunteer with your favorite charity. Spending time with a sick family member or going to visit an aged loved one. There are a million things you could do that won’t get you mentally addicted, and in fact will mentally refresh you; while there are just a few that guarantee you will be drawn to your phone like a drug addict wandering back to a dealer. (Try taking a smart phone away from someone playing Candy Crush trying to level up and you will see what I mean).
Anything you do that does not involve technology helps you break free of the brain-hacking programs designed to stimulate addiction, and that will protect your thoughts, and those of your kids. Think of the popular scripture King David wrote in Psalm 23 that simply says, “He restores my soul,” and select activities that quietly renew your spirit.
Here’s the challenge.
Put down your smart phone or tablet for 24 hours. See what you can do to fill the time with activities that matter and that lead you to a better place without technology. Re-evaluate what you learned with your family and then make some positive changes.
You may not be in the loop to instantly know what your former high school friends posted on Facebook about their dog, but you will be well on your way to experiencing greater freedom and emotional peace. That’s a good trade for now, and a better investment in forever.

About the Author –  Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their story through the power of positive change. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Executive Coach in Orlando. Follow him across all social media platforms @DwightBain

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