Our Lives Are Becoming Comfortable Illusions

Tech is exploiting our attention and disconnecting us from others, but it could also be the answer to humanity’s ills

Jay Vidyarthi
Modus
Published in
6 min readAug 12, 2019

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Photo: Artur Debat/Getty Images

WeWe call rapid proliferation on the internet “going viral” for a reason: Ideas spread online exponentially, like viruses. Where viruses hijack our biology, viral memes hijack our minds. In both cases, problems arise when we can’t adapt quickly enough. Our systems get overwhelmed by the flood and eventually, we get sick.

As social, mobile, and other technologies go viral, core pillars of our society are crumbling. Big tech platforms have opened the back door to a billion minds with only one true goal: profit. It’s the perfect recipe for unintended consequences. The clearest example of this started in 2003, when a lonely Harvard student tried to engineer his way out of loneliness; just over a decade later, Facebook started accidentally breaking democratic elections. This is getting serious.

From social media to online shopping, from gaming to porn, there is a striking pattern in the emerging technologies we use the most: They simplify reality into comfortable illusions. It doesn’t seem to be a coordinated move by the tech giants. It’s just that technologies and businesses get traction when they simplify our lives, and they get…

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Jay Vidyarthi
Modus
Writer for

“Good” design as in useful, enjoyable, and ethical. Mindfulness as a tool to reclaim freedom of choice. — Stay in touch at www.attentionactivist.com