Brain Hacking refers to engineering our phones, applications (apps), and social media to hook us into spending more and more time on our smartphones.
It has been 15 minutes since you’ve checked your smartphone. Do your fingers itch to pick it up? You try to resist, but anxiousness bothers you until finally, you give in and check your smartphone. Have you ever wondered if all those people you see staring fixedly at their smartphone, nearly everywhere, and at all times, are addicted to them? You perhaps are using your phones reading this article.
“This thing is a slot machine,” says former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris, holding up his phone. He told Anderson Cooper in ’60 Minutes Interview’, that Silicon Valley is engineering apps, smartphones, and other devices to get you hooked. Some programmers call it brain hacking: programmed methods of hijacking peoples’ minds to form a habit. In response to your behavior, design techniques are embedded inside the products to make smartphones so appealing that you will use them, and other devices, more often.
Checking your phone every 15 minutes, even when no notifications have prompted is so deeply ingrained that it’s likely your cortisol levels will rise if you ignore the urge, making your mildly anxious and distracted. You want to get rid of the anxiety, so you grab your smartphone and immediately feel at peace.
Tristen Harris is one of the few tech insiders to publicly acknowledge that the companies responsible for programming your phones are working hard to get you and your family to feel the need to check in constantly. Some programmers call it ‘Brain hacking’ and the tech world would probably prefer you don’t hear about it.
Programmers use a playbook of techniques to keep the addiction going, according to Harris. As an example, Snapchat, the app that teens rank as ‘most important social network,’ according to a Piper Jaffray report, is keeping teens hooked by design. Snapchat knows that teens don’t want to break their streaks the number of days in a row two people have volleyed photos back and forth. Reportedly this is causing kids such great stress that they give their password to friends to keep the volley going on their behalf when they go on vacation.
The host, Anderson refers to it as an addiction code. With every chance to receive cute emoji’s, Facebook likes, retweets, and mentions we are being habituated by rewards, and thousands of engineers work diligently to update your phone daily to be more and more persuasive.
Do you think that smartphones were designed to hack our brains? Let us know in the comments below.
Reference: 60 Minutes