A couple of things have been bubbling in the digital ether this week that speaks to increasing awareness and shift about the role technology plays in our daily lives, how it helps us do more and stay connected. Recently, I explored a different angle and wrote about how technology use can lead to feelings of disconnection that have negative implications for health.
JOMO Meet Mojo
You might be familiar with JOMO’s relation FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out. It is a relatively new phenomenon wrought by the depiction of your friends’ social media posts about their perfect lives – or so it seems. Rather than taking a break, we are looking at our phones more and more to check feeds, snaps, and tweets at alarmingly regularly rates. A slew of studies in adolescents published earlier this year shows social media use during adolescence is leading to some very negative health consequences like depression, less social connection, and suicide attempts. In essence, we have lost our Mojo, and our love of devices is a huge contributor – but fear not, as JOMO has arrived to rescue us (tongue firmly in cheek as I type this)!
JOMO stands for Joy of Missing Out – a phrase coined in 2015 by Christina Crook in her book of the same name – and is now gaining popularity as a trend. In essence, scheduling time away from devices is the new favorite thing to do: Reconnecting and finding joy in in-person social connections, and art and nature are the other things that make us uniquely human. We are beginning to embrace the digital detox, and I see an uptick in people taking breaks away from social media. What if our devices worked with us to create moments of JOMO? Google is entering this space with tools to promote digital wellness. They have released tools to monitor device use so you can bring awareness to how much time you spend on your phone and which apps are the most significant time sink.
There’s movement in Silicon Valley toward calling out the unintended consequences of all that tech exposure. As Jane McGonigal from the Institute of the Future states: “When something of massive consequence happens that no one predicted, we often say it was simply unimaginable. But the truth is, nothing is impossible to imagine. When we say something was unimaginable, usually it means we failed to point our imagination in the right direction.” So how do we address these consequences now that we know their addictive qualities? By being aware during the design phase of all the potential uses of your product, and by thinking the unimaginable. In a toolkit released this week called Ethical OS, several dimensions where tech can be hijacked and misused are outlined. They include eight risk zones to consider:
1. Truth, Disinformation, Propaganda
2. Addiction & the Dopamine Economy
3. Economic & Asset Inequalities
4. Machine Ethics & Algorithmic Biases
5. Surveillance State
6. Data Control & Monetization
7. Implicit Trust & User Understanding
8. Hateful & Criminal Actors
The authors, a collaboration from the Institute of the Future and the Omidyar Network, urge people to use this toolkit for “visualizing and anticipating future risk, and building a better ecosystem.” Time will tell if people and companies that have made millions from tech, and now realize the negative consequences, can penetrate the unicorn chasing culture in Silicon Valley and beyond. People invest in solutions that promise to make a better world or solve a thorny problem, and they also want to get a significant return on that investment. Can we find a new fulcrum where we can balance responsible use with profit? Time will tell.
Thanks for reading- Trina
(Opinions are my own)
Christina Crook- The Joy of Missing Out
Google Digital Wellness