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Social Media's Dark Side

Tristan Harris | 9:23


 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.

They're empowered to go to these brand new places and to do these new things, to have these new capacities. And um, that's always been the philosophy of people who make technologies, how. Uh, create bicycles for our minds to do and empower us to feel and, and access more. Now, when the first iPhone was introduced, it was also the philosophy of these, the technology.

How do we empower people to do something more? And what, and in those days, it wasn't manipulative because there was no competition for attention. Photoshop wasn't trying to maximize how much attention it took. , it didn't measure its success that way. Um, and the internet overall had been in the very beginning, uh, not designed to maximize attention.

It was just a putting things out there, putting things out there, creating these message boards. It wasn't designed with this whole persuasive psychology that emerged later. What happened is that the attention economy and this race for attention got more and more. And the more competitive it got to get people's attention on, say, a news website, the more they need to add these design principles, these more manipulative design tactics as ways of holding onto your attention.

And so YouTube goes from being, uh, a more neutral, honest tool of just, here's a video to, oh, do you wanna see these other videos? And oh, do we wanna auto play the next video? And oh, do you wanna, you know, um, you know, here's some notifications. These products start to look and feel more. Media that's about maximizing consumption and less like bicycles for our minds.

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