Unplugging 

There's a great deal of conversation today about the value of mindfulness. And much buzz about how unconscious and mindless we've become in our use of technology. That's why those of us involved in the Feathered Pipe created The Mindful Unplug initiative.

We know that the information at our fingertips enhances our lives, but the technology that delivers it can put our senses to sleep. The more time we spend tethered to computers, tablets, and smartphones, the less we savor the full sensory experience of seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching the world.

I’ve benefited from the supercomputer in my pocket. It’s made my flexible freelancing work life possible, just for starters. But there's a troublesome, implied invitation to be in continual digital consumption mode and in allegiance to social media. The more I learn more about neuroscience and the more I witness the conspicuous difference in my own, and others’, overall health and enthusiasm for participating in “life live” when we have the wisdom to unplug? The more I know how valuable it is to become conscious of just how unconscious we’ve become.


Created with the assistance of a friend who is expert in sensory literacy, below is a curated list of worthy articles, books, and thought leadership on subjects related to healthy digital citizenship and mindfulness. It's by no means comprehensive. The intent isn't to boil the entire ocean of great scholarship, but to highlight some articles, books, and videos that are helpful in assigning meaning to why bringing mindfulness practices into your life is a worthy pursuit. Enjoy. Then log off for a very long while and gawk at the miracle of a solitary blueberry or go hang out barefoot in a forest and listen to the birds — without your smartphone anywhere near you.


Digital Counterrevolution

Humanizing Technology
Kaliya Young dissects the issues surrounding how technology can best be used to advance social justice. She identifies the generation of a “digital identity that is not under the control of a corporation, an organization or a government” as foundational to the success of any effort that attempts to connect people and groups with shared goals. 

The Myth of a Radical Digital Connectivity
A think piece about the hype around the value of digital connectivity.”Learning at its best involves being touched by the very things that one does not expect to be touched by – a sphere of the most profound personal experience. For digital technology to be a boon to learning, it must be a boon to that kind of experience. But is it, or is it part of a general trend towards the attenuation of that kind of experience?

‘The Revenge of Analog’: See It. Feel It. Touch It. (Don’t Click)
This NY Times book review of David Sax's book, "Revenge of the Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter" (2016, Perseus Books) describes the renaissance of 'old school' stuff - like paper notebooks and erasable whiteboards - as evidence of a blossoming counternarrative to "the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world."

Resisting Technology, Appalachian Style
The findings shared in this piece are based on research derived from focus groups examining how people use technology in rural Appalachia. The research goes beneath the surface to inquire whether people there — and, by extension, other rural populations — “deprived of the benefits of technology” might, in fact, be making considered, thoughtful decisions about safeguarding themselves from harmful effects of its misuse. The author notes that many headline-grabbing articles about rural residents’ lack of technology suffer from a research flaw: survey questions stop after gathering data on how many people have smartphones and laptops. They fail to inquire why they don’t own the latest phone or computer. “They just assume people would if they could.” 

Should You Dump Your Smartphone for a Flip-Phone?
BBC reports that “bigwigs, celebrities, and ordinary people are saying no to smartphones and going - or staying - old school flip. Tech ethicist David Ryan Polar says that the revival of the flip-phone is a reaction to feeling as if one is subservient” to a smartphone.  

Taking Data Back From Our 'Digital Overlords'
Technology columnist Ben Tarnoff endorses a novel approach to taking back the reins of “Big Data” from the small number of companies that currently control and get wealthy from it. As popular discomfort grows over how our personal online data is trawled, harvested, and organized in order to monitor and manipulate us, Tarnoff endorses a radical paradigm shift: if we begin to regard and regulate data the same way we do extractive industries like oil and other natural resources, doors can open for data democratization. “It would begin,” he says, “with the recognition that all of the data extracted within a country is the common property of everyone who lives in that country.” 

DIGITAL HEALTH HACKS

The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World
By neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, this book (un-ironically available on Kindle), details not only how it is our brains are not built for the multitasking that digital life demands, but offers practical suggestions, backed by science, on how to battle digital distraction.

Forget Multi-Tasking, Try Mono-Tasking
This 2012 TED talk with designer Paolo Cardini tackles, with humor and sincerity, the question of whether multi-tasking makes us as efficient as we think it does.  

How to Actually, Truly Focus on What You’re Doing
In his interview with “Digital Minimalism” author Cal Newport, the New York Times’ “Smarter Living” editor probes for practical suggestions to address challenges that many of us whose professional lives demand extended time tethered to laptops wrestle with. Newport synthesizes the concept of what he calls “deep work,” offering practical suggestions for how to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. He notes that willpower alone is not enough, and that learning to tolerate the initial impatience that comes from tasks that lack moment-to-moment novelty is an important first step. He counsels anyone challenged by digital distractions to become more intentional and selective (in other words, more mindful) about the apps and services they allow into their daily lives. “Concentration,” says Newport, “is like a super power in most knowledge work pursuits.”

How to Reboot Your Brain
This concise summary offers takeaways from the latest findings in neuroscience as they apply to coping with the cognitive overload from digital media. It emphasizes the pitfalls of multi-tasking, the boost to creativity from focusing on one task at a time, and the importance of sleep. This article nicely condenses how we can operationalize the knowledge that "neurons that fire together, wire together" through a mindfulness practice,  

Slow Web Relief
Author Starre Vartan diagnoses and prescribes for the challenge that many of us with jobs that require extended stretches of time online face: how do we balance online and offline time? How do we reclaim more time for experiencing the non-virtual world? Acknowledging the impossibility of getting through all the potentially compelling content available every hour on the web — and the built-in dissatisfaction this triggers for “completists” —  she offers tips and practical controls for a healthy digital discipline that still leaves room for us to be “involved, educated, and engaged citizens.” The suggestions include: deliberately opting for Wi-Fi-free public places, storing your phone out of view, scheduling “fun web surfing” time around which strict time limits are placed, adapting an intelligent and prioritized strategy for social media reading, and using apps designed to facilitate “slow webbing.” These options help mitigate the syndrome whereby unmanaged online time leaves us “missing out on our own lives, missing things going on right in front of us, while we're absorbed in a politician's latest tweets.”  

The Light Phone
An anti-smartphone phone.  Brilliant. 

The Most Important Survival Skill for the Next 50 Years Isn’t What You Think
Mental flexibility is the most essential skill that humans will need in coming decades to prepare for, and adapt to, the accelerating pace of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. This assessment by historian, author, and vipassana meditation practitioner Yuval Noah Harari is predicated on his conviction that self-knowledge is the most reliable safeguard against manipulation of the human mind by AI algorithms. Harari advocates bringing greater public attention to AI and automation topics. The need to increase awareness about these issues arises as much from practical economic considerations, such as their impact on calibrating future employment skill sets, as it does from knowledge about how technology affects human psychology and relationships.

The Power of Off: Staying Sane in the Virtual World
Lori Deschene, the founder of the marvelous Tiny Buddha  website, tackles the same issue many of us involved in mindfulness work face: how to strike a healthy balance in light of the requirement to be online to share our insights and connect and the fact that it's awfully ease to use technology compulsively. Her article discusses and recommends a book authored by Nancy Colier. 

To Break a Phone Addiction, Turn Your Screen Gray
A clever video by The Atlantic offers a hack to make your smartphone less attractive and seductive. 

DIGITAL NATIVES AND GENERATIONAL QUESTIONS

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
Psychology professor Jean Twenge, a generational differences research specialist for 25 years, reports that in all her analyses of generational data — some reaching back to the 1930s — she’s “never seen anything like” the abrupt shift she saw in 2012 when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone reached 50 percent. mBorn between 1995 and 2012, the “iGen” is, according to her extensive research, is dramatically less likely to crave independence, spend time in person with friends, date, get enough sleep, or leave the house. The same generation is more likely to feel lonely: Her research revealed that, without exception, teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are likely to be unhappy. The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.

I'm Beating My Smartphone Addiction
A Bloomberg View columnist describes himself as a “recovering [smartphone]” addict who wants readers to know that device addiction is not confined to millennials and digital natives. The 45-year old attributes his addiction to the requirements and culture of the news reporting business. He says that reassuming control of his digital life, by uninstalling social networking apps and turning off smartphone notifications, hasn’t been easy: “FOMO — the fear of missing out — ruined several mornings; I reverted to peeking for a couple of days, then forced myself to stop.” 

Millennials in the Workplace
Author, speaker, and consultant Simon Sinek's compelling video interview with Inside Quest explores the challenges that millennials face in, and pose to, today's workplace. Sinek discusses four distinct elements that contribute to the conundrum faced by management in successfully integrating the millenial generation into the workplace: parenting, technology, impatience, and environment. 

No One is Teaching Kids How to Spot Fake News 
Social Studies teacher Joannna Petrone shares her insights about the urgent challenge of imparting digital literacy and civic skills to schoolchildren in the era of “fake news.”In the ‘old days’ students, she points out, students were routinely sensitized to the importance of discerning the difference between news, opinions, and ads. Moreover, they spent considerably less time online and weren’t relying on as heavily on the internet to research homework assignments. With the alarming proliferation of online propaganda, disinformation, and carefully engineered “information operations” online, she fears that students are poorly prepared to spot fake news.  

Which Generation is Most Distracted by Their Phones?
This article summarizes the findings of a Nielsen survey looking at which are groups are most distracted by technology during mealtimes. The survey found that adults are as addicted — if not more addicted — to technology as teenagers. 

Land Mines and Mind Mines

Alexa, Should We Trust You?
In this thoughtful piece on the charms, appeals, and risks of smart speakers, author Judith Shuvelitz writes that companies are pushing these devices hard — industry observers suspect that tech corporations lost money on each unit sold during holiday discount blitzes — because they have grand ambitions. “In the near future, everything from your lighting to your air-conditioning to your refrigerator, your coffee maker, and even your toilet could be wired to a system controlled by voice.” The author’s view is that the tech companies’ goal of “frictionlessness” — the buzzword tech designers and engineers use to describe the convenience these devices offer — summons up “the image of a capitalist prison filled with consumers who have become dreamy captives of their every whim.”

Brave New World
The media’s place in popular consciousness is the subject of a fresh body of scholarship appearing in the wake of politically-tinged exhortations about “fake news” and the media’s role in clarifying, or culpability in obfuscating, facts. The author recalls his late father’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, in the context of revived public interest in two classic dystopian novels, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. The author outlines a strategy for addressing the symptoms of what the “Huxleyian technopoly” has wrought on the media-consuming public. Specifically, he suggests: treating false allegations as opportunities for original, primary source research; assuming responsibility for gathering facts to inform our understanding of what’s happening in the world (rather than surrendering our power fully to media outlets); and teaching children the value of identifying and accounting for media bias.  

Data That Turned the World Upside Down
The themes covered in this article touch on broad political, psychological, and even geopolitical impacts of the digital revolution. A growing body of research reveals that ubiquitous social media, and addictive engagement with it, poses measurable risks to our mental and physical well-being. These discoveries are spawning a cottage industry of nonprofits advocating smarter “digital citizenship,” private sector services designed to train people how to better manage their time on social media, and even “digital detox” retreats.     

What has not gained much attention until relatively recently, however, is the extent to which substantial leaps in artificial intelligence (AI) — together with sophisticated data science techniques and the advent of “big data” — create ideal conditions for data-driven psychometric manipulation. This article credibly speculates on how a ‘people search engine’ model developed by psychologist Michal Kosinski analyzing individual behavior and personality traits based on Facebook activity may have, in conjunction with AI and data science, played a role in the 2016 US presidential election.

How Social Media is Changing Us
An interview with a San Francisco psychologist studying the impact of social media on young adults offers insights into how it manipulates mood and affects behavior. With competition for our online attention and time intensifying, Dr. Erin Vogel warns that the strategies employed by many companies to keep users online puts young adults — many of whom have underdeveloped impulse control skills — at greater risk for depression.   

The article includes Dr. Vogel’s observations on the perils of cyberbullying and how online forms of instant validation (“likes”) impact youth: “Kids have always done things to impress their friends — but now it’s on a much larger scale. . . It’s definitely concerning, and it makes sense just from what we know about how much adolescents crave social approval and how quickly you can get it on social media.

How Tech Could Better Protect Us From Distraction
My hero, Tristan Harris, talks about alternative approaches for technology developers to begin undoing the distraction damage that we all struggle with.

Infomania: Why We Can't Afford to Ignore It Any Longer
A 2007 peer-reviewed study: "The combination of e–mail overload and interruptions is widely recognized as a major disrupter of knowledge worker productivity and quality of life, yet few organizations take serious action against it."

I Used to Be a Human Being
One of the pioneers of the early days of blogosphere-dom, Andrew Sullivan, describes his discovery after years of being continually online “jumping from site to site, tweet to tweet” how much he gave up in the process. “By the last few months, I realized I had been engaging — like most addicts — in a form of denial. I’d long treated my online life as a supplement to my real life, an add-on, as it were. Yes, I spent many hours communicating with others as a disembodied voice, but my real life and body were still here. But then I began to realize, as my health and happiness deteriorated, that this was not a both-and kind of situation. It was either-or.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn on Mindfulness and Tech
In an interview about the mindfulness revolution that he helped to create, Jon Kabat-Zinn shares his insights on the evolution of mindfulness practices. When asked about whether it is possible to have a more mindful relationship with technology, Kabat-Zinn says that “unless you impose behaviors on yourself, it’s like heroin.” In his view, the biggest distractor is not your iPhone, “it’s your own mind.”

Melatonin Levels and Sleep Deprivation from Screen Light
A short and simple explanation in Scientific American about why it's not a great idea to mess with your melatonin levels before bedtime. Melatonin is what tells tells your body that it is night time and that it’s time to sleep. Using a tablet or computer in the late evening, or having a bright TV in your bedroom, disrupts the body's melatonin production.

Squirrel-Chasing Dog
In this article about her distraction challenges, journalist Katie Hafner describes her “episodic partial attention” affliction - a syndrome her friend Debra calls “Squirrel!” “With a nod to the dog in the Pixar film Up, Debra put this name to her own problem — which sounds identical to mine — after noticing how closely her dog’s leash-yanking reaction to every squirrel he sees resembles her own inability to maintain focus.” Hafner blames electronic devices that “teem with squirrels” for her affliction.

The World Wide Cage
A provocative essay by technology and culture writer Nicholas Carr challenging the utopian view of technology as an unmitigated engine of progress. Carr posits that we’ve dumbed down our critical faculties and are well advised to take notice of the extent to which we've "give[n] Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financiers free rein in remaking culture to fit their commercial interests." 

Unplugging From the Internet Nearly Killed Me
A politics and policy writer from The Atlantic shares a semi-tongue-in-cheek vignette of his brief experiment with unplugging from his digital devices.

You Probably Suffer From Scattered Brain Syndrome
From the BBC: "Our brains are hardwired to do one thing at a time. When we think we are multi-tasking, we’re really not, Instead, as far as our brains are concerned, we are fully switching back and forth between tasks. Doing that repeatedly tires out the brain and lowers cognitive ability, research shows."

Your Brain on Texting
Apparently texting messes with the brain. This interactive shares findings of a neurologist and his team on what happens to brain waves during texting. 

Your Inner Drone: The Politics of the Automated Future
Longreads article by Nicholas Carr: "From the provision of government services to the tending of friendships and familial ties, society is reshaping itself to fit the contours of the new computing infrastructure."

Our Senses, Returning to Them

Empty Brain
Senior research psychologist Robert Epstein makes a strong case for discarding the dominant paradigm that human brains operate like computers: processing information, retrieving knowledge, and storing memories. This metaphor — regarded by many modern experts on human behavior as a truism — does not, according to Epstein, stand up to scrutiny. The metaphor, he says, operates as an obstacle to discovering the truth about how sentient beings learn, behave, and interact with the world around them. Shedding this assumption and the shoddy science behind it, observes Epstein, is essential to getting “on with the business of trying to understand ourselves.” 

To demonstrate, he shares the results of a simple classroom exercise that he conducts, asking a student to draw a detailed picture of an object they have seen many times “from memory” — a dollar bill. Next, he asks the student make another drawing with a dollar bill present. The second drawing is inevitably a much more accurate and detailed representation of the object than the first. 

 “The difference between the two diagrams reminds us that visualizing something (that is, seeing something in its absence) is far less accurate than seeing something in its presence.” We are, in other words, changed by the experience of presence — in ways we do not fully understand and that cannot be explained by the ‘brain as computer’ metaphor. 

Get Your Next ‘Natural High’ From Sound Healing Therapy
When your body is physically or emotionally compromised, certain frequencies become out of tune. Not unlike an orchestra. This Observer article examines how sound therapy can entrain brainwaves to a slower rhythm.  

Hearing and Deep Listening are Not the Same 
In this TEDx talk, composer Pauline Oliveros — the founder of the Deep Listening Institute — shares her insights on the mysterious process of deep listening and our perception of sound. Oliveros describes how we confuse listening with hearing, and explores the rich world of our sense of sound:“The ear hears, the brain listens, the body senses vibrations.” Another video with a more in-depth lecture by Oliveros is here.  

How Do We Write Now?
Have we put our souls, and the sacred currency of our attention, up for sale to online bidders? Have we succumbed so thoroughly to news fatigue that we’ve waived our rights to pursue personal inspiration? Both playfully and seriously, writer-poet Patricia Lockwood advocates actions that writers and other artists might need to take if they are to maintain their sanity and keep their creativity alive in the current political and media environment. Originally given as a lecture at a 2018 poetry workshop, this is a raw, unsparing, and poetic probe into the collateral damage afflicting writers who are living through these challenging times. When each day’s news can feel like a merciless assault on our sensibilities, Lockwood reminds us of the urgency of reclaiming our imagination and our humanity. 

How Forests Heal People
If you needed confirmation of the very real benefits of spending time in a forest, this video will give you that. After you watch it, instead of watching the next YouTube video, get yourself outdoors. 

In Praise of Slow Thinking
Ephrat Livni examines the value of embracing “slow thinking” in an era of accelerated news cycles and ideological divides that entice us to draw quick conclusions and offer resolute opinions, even on issues we may know little or nothing about. Declining the implied invitation to form instant opinions, she says, offers a liberating way to navigate the world. She admires the thoughtful politicians and successful business people who purposefully make time to step out of action in order to study, to read, and to contemplate others’ thoughts on vital problems — an approach, she says, which is not unlike that of Socrates, who understood that admitting ignorance is wisdom. In tumultuous times, with news cycles perpetually calling us to instant action and goading us to opine first and think later, slowing down can be a revolutionary act.

The Case Against Reality
A professor of cognitive science argues in The Atlantic that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses. 

Meaning of Light
Without fail each day, the sun rises and falls. Yet harmonizing our body's interconnected symptoms to its reliable rhythms falls by the wayside as our digitally-compromised senses and body systems are seduced or upended by dissonant, unsynchronized distractions. As our relationship with natural light wanes, our bodies pay a price. This article summarizes collaborative research in the neuroscience and neurobiology fields on the physical and mental effects of circadian rhythms. It suggests that maintaining a consistent routine based on the sun’s movement can reap substantial benefits to our overall well-being and offers practical tips for synchronizing with the sun to "tune ourselves up the natural way."  

One Square Inch of Silence
A selected reading from Gordon Hempton's book of the same name, on Krista Tippett's On Being website: "It is our birthright to listen, quietly and undisturbed, to the natural environment and take whatever meanings we may. Long before the noises of mankind, there were only the sounds of the natural world. Our ears evolved perfectly tuned to hear these sounds." 

Sound as Anti-Anxiety Medicine
Mindlab International’s research into the impact of sound therapy to treat stress and anxiety resulted in the creation of a neuroscience-backed playlist. “The group that created "Weightless", Marconi Union, did so in collaboration with sound therapists. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener's heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”

The Land Where the Internet Ends
This poignant op-ed in the NY Times describes the search for disappearing off-the-grid zones.

The Universe is a Question
Philosopher technologist Kevin Kelly explores the character and spiritual meaning of technology in his interview with On Being host Krista Tippett. He says that our role as good askers of questions will remain the most important contribution of our species in a coming world of artificial intelligence. He compares the “individualistic” approach Americans take to many issues of our time to that taken by Amish communities, which approach issues that impact the collective in a very different way. In Amish communities, he notes, the collective observes how the adoption of anything new affects family, community, and work — and if they don’t think that it’s an overall positive, it’s abandoned. 

The Vision Thing: Mainly in the Brain
I love this 1993 article from Discover on how the eye and brain work together as partners to interpret the world.  

We Have Far More Than Five Senses

Scientists have long known that there’s much more to our experience than the five senses (or ‘outward wits’) described by Aristotle – hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste. Yet the myth of five senses persists, perhaps because a clearer understanding of our sensory experience at the neurological level has only recently started to take shape. In this installment of Aeon’s In Sight series, the British philosopher Barry C Smith argues that the multisensory view of human experience that’s currently emerging in neuroscience could make philosophising about our senses much more accurate, and richer, allowing philosophers to complement the work of scientists in important ways. But first, philosophy must catch up to the major advances being made in brain science. 

Reviving the Lost Art of Taking it Easier

Arianna Huffington on a Book About Working Less, Resting More
In this NY Times review of Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book, “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less”(2016, Perseus Books), Arianna Huffington offers praise for the author’s spotlight on the value of refining our productive rest skills. “In the last couple decades,” writes Pang, “discoveries in sleep research, psychology, neuroscience, organizational behavior, sports medicine, sociology and other fields have given us a wealth of insight into the unsung but critical role that rest plays in strengthening the brain, enhancing learning, enabling inspiration, and making innovation sustainable.” Pang is also the author of “The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul.” The title alone tells you how relevant Pang's work is to the times we're in.

The Lost Art of Doing Nothing
Who knows how many world-changing ideas first made themselves apparent during those daily moments of stillness and contemplation? It suggested to me that what we consider 'downtime' may actually be the access point to a higher plane of thinking—one that I’m hoping to find my way back into now that I’ve opened my eyes again to the world that exists outside of the phone in my pocket.” 

Smartphone Booby Traps

A Very Blunt instrument: The Potential and Power of Mobile Notifications
A writer for the Columbia Journalism review looks at the manipulative potential of those push notifications that pop up on your smartphone.  

Dear iPhone — It Was Just Physical, and Now It’s Over
The director of digital media at a Maryland school shares what it was like for her to "break up" with her smartphone. She shares her insights into how mindless she’d become with her phone before the breakup and touches on the debate in cognitive science over whether objects in our environment can become part of us. Without dismissing the smartphone’s convenience for practical tasks like scheduling and communication, she questions what personal technology does to "our moving, breathing bodies." The author describes the joy of rediscovering the pleasure of sensory experience without a digital filter. " . . . once I looked up from my phone, I remembered that each experience could be a symphony for the senses, just like it had been when I was a child and, thank God, there was no such thing as smartphones."

Hold the Phone! Mindfulness Hacks for Mobiles
This guide is produced by Mindful Life™, an organization that trains schools, teachers, parents, businesses, camps, youth sports teams and after-school programs in brain-based mindfulness programs. It’s packed with practical tips on balancing your work with your life by reasserting dominion over your smartphone. It includes suggestions for introducing “intentionality” to checking email, social media, and online newsletters. It even offers links to some downloadable applications that can streamline your digital life.  

Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods
These days, intelligent and informed insight into the social, physical, safety, and psychological landmines that come from smartphone addiction is not hard to come by. This New York Times article, however, neatly distills the issues. It makes a strong case for the solution lying beyond periodic digital detoxes and reflexive and unrealistic anti-technology backlashes. It begins instead, says the author, with a commitment by individuals to interact with people. 

The simplest answer for all of us is biblical,” says Adam Popescu. “Do unto others — and maybe do it without clutching your smartphone. Next time you’re in the checkout lane or stopped at a red light, look around. How many people are really there with you?” 

Hooked on Our Smartphones
NY Times personal health columnist Jane Brody examines the damage to creativity, bodies, minds, and relationships from smartphone addiction. She says that “moderation in our digital world should be the hallmark of a healthy relationship with technology” and reminds readers of the toll to the human nervous system from uninterrupted screen time.

Not Owning a Cellphone Gives You Time to Ruminate and Rest 
A scholar specializing in ethics and moral psychology who says he’s never had nor will he ever get a cellphone, outlines the reasons for his digital “suberversion.” Phillip Reed cites cost and environmental concern as two reasons for his choice, but the decisive element is his disdain for the idea of having an “omnipresent ability to communicate with anyone who is absent.” “Even though we have two hands,” says Reed, “I’m convinced that you can’t hold a cellphone and someone else’s hand at the same time.” He describes using a cellphone as a means of communication with others as a fundamentally alienating and disembodying experience. The author acknowledges that it is possible to use cellphones responsibly, but says that it takes “extraordinary willpower.”


Good Work in the World to Know About

Organizations

Center for Journalism Ethics - UW School of Journalism Ethics

Cyberhero League - Where environmental stewardship meets gaming for kids. Players join nonprofit organizations on an epic quest to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Digital Mindfulness - A global community of digital professionals with research, data, and events that aligns digital technologies with our humanity.

Feathered Pipe Foundation - a nonprofit educational foundation that created The Mindful Unplug initiative, applying thousands of years of wisdom and experience into workshops and educational initiatives focused on nourishing a digitally healthy culture through mindfulness.

Time Well Spent -  The brainchild of former Google ethicist Tristan Harris, this nonprofit initiative describes itself as "dedicated to creating a humane future where technology is in harmony with our well-being, our social values, and our democratic capacities." 

People

Dana Klisanin - an award-winning psychologist and professional futurist exploring how we can use information technologies and new media to promote human wellbeing and planetary flourishing.

Dave Morin - American entrepreneur, angel investor, and the CEO and co-founder of the social network Path. A former manager at Facebook, he co-created the Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect and is now on the board of directors of Esalen, and in his own words, is "on a mission to cure depression."

David Ryan Polgar - tech ethicist & digital citizenship expert.

Nicholas Carr - a technology and culture writer; his latest book is Utopia Is Creepy (2016).

Tristan Harris - After three years as a “Google Design Ethicist,” Tristan incubated a nonprofit initiative, Time Well Spent, which “aims to catalyze a rapid, coordinated change among technology companies through public advocacy, the development of ethical design standards, design education and policy recommendations to protect minds from nefarious manipulation.”