The average American adult spends over three hours a day staring into their phone. If you’re a teenager it’s even worse – seven hours. What’s really troubling is that in study after study, people say that they want to be looking at their screens less. They just don’t know how. They’ve lost control.
Just wanted to stop by to say that I really miss your perspective in writing, Bari. I would have loved to read your response to not only Elon Musk buying Twitter, but the Woke religious zealots's hilarious meltdown (particularly Ari Melber's self-own) as well.
We live in an age where organizations have become very sophisticated at one very troublesome thing -- how to manipulate people. These organizations understand human behavior and how to manipulate for their cause. Whether its a product or a political position or opinion or cause. In many cases, it is core to what they are trying to accomplish. And with forces like the internet, the ability to manipulate on very large scales is here to stay.
Addiction is a common human challenge. It isn't just gambling or alcohol or caffeine, etc etc.
One of the most manipulative items? The 'like' button. For many, the 'like' button and other similar forms of feedback are addictive.
The scary thing? Human nature evolves over the course of millennia. Computers ability to manage human nature evolves daily. One is moving much faster than the other. I don't like the odds for the upcoming generation in this battle.
This was a fantastic podcast. I'm excited to buy his book and I'm optimistic in time we will all be forced to reckon with the fact we are being hacked by social media. Mitigating measures needed.
I don't have the attention span to listen to something this long, but I nearly bought the book until I saw that its reviews are worse than I expected and starting reading through them. TLDR: Many reviewers say the same thing - that halfway through the book completely changes topics and becomes a cornucopia of woke rants advocating all manner of far-left policies.
I can only guess whether the author means to suggest that "progressivism" is the solution to attention-deficit issues, but since proposed solutions were my primary interest in buying the book, I am no longer purchasing.
Bari, this was a fascinating podcast. I shared it with two people. I have already (in one day) resisted looking at my phone. Eye-opening but honestly something I kind of knew but ignored.
Knowledge is power. Thank you!!!
I have an adult son with ADD. It's killing his career prospects. I have always blamed his computer obsession since early childhood. We have a lot of Amish near where I live; ADD/ADHD is unheard-of in their children. Sure wish I could do everything over; I'd have moved to rural Montana.
I avoid podcasts; they take too much time, but when I started on this one I couldn't stop. Well worth the time invested. Thanks. You are changing the world.
Love Johann. Got his book "Lost Connections." When he describes this problem it describes me to a T, and his defiance against it is inspiring and actually rather emotional. I started working from home several years ago (before the pandemic) and I think that makes it worse.
I probably spend at least 3 hours a day on my phone, but not social media.
It’s reading articles (like Substack), Kindle books, and hobby forums.
Comments like this and posting on technical and hobby forums are as close as I come to social media.
My grown daughters get mad because I don’t keep up with them and their families on Wastebook. But my attitude is (and has always been) if you want me to come to your child’s school play or tell me about your trip, have the courtesy to call, come by, , email pictures (which I might not see) or at least text.
I regard broadcasting messages,, whether social media or work emails, to be lazy, inconsiderate, and arrogant. People get spammed enough with messages. Instead of blasting your message to your whole organization or every FB friend, show the the respect and courtesy due to people you want/need to communicate with and engage them, at the same time sparing everyone else from having to sift through more spam.
Having this much information literally in my pocket is amazing.
I miss reading the newspaper, but have you seen one lately? Not just the propaganda, but how little you get for your money.
Every so often you listen to a podcast that makes you realize the whole world would benefit from listening. Regardless of political affiliation, race, creed, socioeconomics, or religion. This is that podcast. Interview with Johann Hari who’s written a book called Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention And How To Think Deeply Again. It is a riveting interview and I’ve listened to it 3x now. I’m also having my kids and husband listen bc its message is that critical for our society. Bari I just want you to know I posted the above to my Facebook account with the link to this podcast in the hopes that others will have a listen. I love all your podcasts but this one really was exceptional. Looking forward to reading Johann's book. Thank you for continuing to churn out great media. You are appreciated!
total number of hours I've spent staring at media content on the iPhone 6 Plus I've owned for the past seven years: less than one
Have you noticed? The iP6+ screen is the size of a postcard. How is that anything but sad?
(On the other hand, the market in reading glasses with magnifying lenses is due to blow up any day...if it hasn't already started to take off.)
Bari (and Andrew), I love your liberality (that's me too, though I'm a pretty conservative christian). Reminds me of "with malice toward none, with charity for all." Thank you for showing true bravery in reaching across the aisle(s), in a day of intolerant shouted tolerance. I have different beliefs about marriage, but I respect and value your beliefs, and those of other well-meaning people.
While I agree that, in general, people spend too much time on their phones, the stats aren't necessarily as bad as the numbers indicate for two reasons: 1. younger people watch TV and movies on their phones 2. plenty of people read on their phones, like I'm doing with this article right now. Both of these things count as "screen time." I read books electronically on an iPad because I don't have space for physical books, and sometimes watch an episode of a TV series on my iPad before going to bed. Again, that counts toward the "screen time" statistic.
Now, watching 7 hours of TV a day is just as bad IMO as using a phone for 7 hours, maybe worse because TV is passive and at least some activities on a mobile device are active.
Very good topic and discussion. I am struck by the seemingly obvious connection between the idea of the lengths people go to gain attention ("hysterical" fainting, anorexia, etc.) and the podcast that you did with Abigail Shrier who basically said that the epidemic of preteen and teen females claiming to be trans is also a "social contagion" designed to attract attention.
100% agree that the most stunning and serious problem here is the leak itself.
I so agree with Matthew C. I was very disappointed when you left The NYTIMES. But this forum I think is just what we need.
Johann Hari was an A+ guest! Your guest list is untouchable and you are the best interviewer around. Thank you Bari.