Developmental Perspectives: Are We Being Brain Hacked

V. Eddie Parker Ed.S.



Are We Being Brain Hacked

According to the 60 Minutes interview with investigative correspondent Anderson Cooper and former Google product manager Tristan Harris we are. Harris informed Anderson Cooper that code developers in Silicon Valley are engineering apps, smartphones, and other devices to get the consumer of these products hooked. Some programmers call it brain hacking defined as programmed methods of hijacking an individuals’ mind to form a habit. Based on user behavior, developers can design and embed techniques inside the products to make smartphones so appealing that you will use them, and other devices, and social media platforms more often.

In the interview, Harris states that programmers use a playbook of techniques to keep the addiction going. 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.

Current research notes that most users check their smartphones at intervals of 15-20 minutes; this behavior is without prior conception or external notifications prompting them to pick it up. This habit is so deeply ingrained that it’s likely that the peripheral nervous system will have an adverse reaction if you ignore the urge, resulting in one becoming mildly anxious and distracted. To alleviate or totally obviate the anxiety you grab your cell phone and immediately feel at peace.

Behavioral Outgrowth Associated With Smartphone Anxiety

In my observation, a behavioral trend has emerged due to the phenomenon of separation anxiety with regard to standard norms associated with operating a motor vehicle. It appears that red lights, stop signs, fire lanes, and underground garage entrances are becoming social media anxiety zones. I will never forget how proud I was to complete my driver education course with a thorough understanding that upon approaching a stop sign, one should come to a complete stop, check all approaching traffic from left to right, left again and drive through the intersection.

Such is not the case today due to the constant need to check your smartphone. I have lost count of the number of times that I have had to give a friendly tap of the horn to alert the diver ahead of me that they either have the green light or the intersection is clear due to the fact that they have taken the opportunity to check their social media status during the course of operating a motor vehicle. In the case of the fire lane which is often used to load your groceries in the designated pick-up area, social media addicts find it convenient to double park there rather than taking the time to secure a parking space in the allotted section. Finally, there is the event of losing your Wi-Fi signal when descending into the office underground parking garage. I have seen people literally stop to finish their snap chap or thumb type that last post before descending into Wi-Fi obscurity only after receiving that friendly tap of the horn from the driver behind them. Will this behavior lead to a violent confutation, only time will tell, however, what is interesting is that this addiction impacts the anxiety levels of both individuals to the existent that their behavior becomes a threat to the phenomena of peaceful social interaction and collaboration.

Detoxing From Smartphone Separation Anxiety

Lora Ziebro, Breaking Digital Addiction (2016) provides an in-depth look at the dangers of smartphone and social media addiction and how we as human beings are slowly submitting our free will to electronic devices. Ziebro observes that such behavior denotes “a form of slavery” and pull no punches when providing behavioral techniques to combat the effects of brain hacking. The first step must begin with you taking a good look at yourself in the mirror and affirm the fact that when it comes to your brain, it belongs strictly to you.

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By V. Eddie Parker Ed.S.Joseph Hall Recent comment authors
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Joseph Hall

Quite disturbing as our creations to deliver comfort and contact are turning users into images that lack humanity and purpose