top of page

Social Media's Dark Side


Tristan Harris




In the 1970s, at the dawn of personal computers, people like Steve Jobs and the scientists at Xerox PARC talked about computers as "bicycles for our mind". Sure, someone was going to make big money selling these hardware units, but the intention was at heart quite pure: computers would give our minds wheels to go farther than ever before. Our capabilities would be augmented by technology, and we would become smarter and more capable. That ethos has not really stuck, and today we find ourselves in a Pavlovian relationship with push notifications, incapacitated by the multi-directional pull on our attention spans.


Well, there's a really common misconception that, uh, technology is neutral and it's up to us to just choose how to use it. And so we're sitting there and we're scrolling and we find ourselves in this kind of wormhole, and then we say, oh, man, like I should really have more self-control. And that's partially true, but what we forget when we talk about it that way is that there's a thousand engineers on the other side of the screen whose job it.

Was to get my finger to do that the next time. And there's this whole playbook of techniques that they use to get us to keep using the software. Uh, more so was design always this manipulative? Um, you know, it wasn't always this way. Uh, in fact, uh, back in the 1970s and the early eighties, uh, at Xerox Park, when Steve Jobs first went over and saw the graphical user interface, the way people talked, Computers and what computers were supposed to be was, uh, a bicycle for our minds that, um, here we are, you take a human being and they have a certain set of capacities and capabilities, and then you give them a bicycle and they can go to all these new distances.

bottom of page