Welcome to the first weekly Wednesday wellbeing blog post!
It will be mostly me, Daan, that will write in the name of Altruïs. Starting today, we will share a new article every Wednesday.
We don’t claim to know anything, as said in the Tao: “they who talk, don’t know. They who know, don’t talk.” Yet still, we feel the urge to share what we learn and keep learning and sharing on a weekly basis. After spending the last two years of researching digital wellbeing, humane technology, value-sensitive design, philosophy of technology, altruism, and so on, we thought: it’s about time we start sharing more and stop being invisible.
“Hyperconnectivity is the snake in the digital garden of Eden.” – Ariana Huffington
So why Altruïs? Our relationship with technologies, mind the plural, has never been so saturated. Hyperconnectivity and spending too much time in front of a screen, combined with the increased pace of internal and external communication in organizations and between people, resulting in information overload, increases the risks of burn-outs and depressions. Technostress, nomophobia, digibesitas, and so on are emerging problems, where people struggle with more and more, on a daily basis. Keeping focused at work has never been more difficult. Quality time for families is frequently disrupted. At the same time, digital technologies themselves are deliberately designed to be more addictive in order to generate more revenue. Popular social media companies are even purposefully using design methods to manipulate behavior. Luckily Facebook is becoming less and less popular and ethical alternatives are on the rise. Alternatives based on the principles of technology that is called Humane by Design.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Altruïs is founded on altruism, which I wrote my thesis about in 2019. This basically means that we have the intention to do good and want to help as many people as possible. So where do we start? We looked at our own talents and knowledge and started by building ethical websites and digital products with a focus on ecology and human friendliness. Later on, we started giving workshops about ethics in design and technology. In 2021 we also launched our first campaign called scrollstop.
The first scrollstop challenge was a success!
Last week something amazing happened. We have been working on scrollstop for the past year to create awareness about the impact of social media on people’s mental health. So we decided to launch a challenge to do a social media detox of a week, from the 4th of October till the 10th. Do you remember what happened on the 4th of October? There was an outage at Facebook that took down Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
We literally cheered from joy, because from our perspective the whole world did a scrollstop of about 6 hours. Scrollstop is more than a social media detox challenge, it is a term for when you choose to take some time away from your infinite feeds. We already hear our friends say: “I’m going to do a scrollstop of a day cause I need some time to recharge”.
Is Facebook losing its grip?
We are very thankful to Frances Haugen, who exposed a lot of shady practices at Facebook. They don’t respect our time, they don’t respect our data, they simply don’t respect us. And from one perspective that’s true, but we can’t deny it helped people connect with each other. However, the business models of large social media corporations run on selling our data (and even selling behavioral change), which means they benefit from keeping us on their platforms as long as possible. During last week it became clear that people are becoming more and more aware they actually can do without those large platforms and find local or decentralized alternatives.
That’s also what the scrollstop challenge last week showed us. Dozens of people told us they had a hard time during the beginning of the week, but afterward realized they didn’t need to be their socials to actually be social. Some people that joined the challenge did say a week was too long and that they chose to quit after a few days. We don’t claim a challenge like scrollstop to be the answer to any of these urgent problems. It’s finding alternatives that will actually do the trick, and we need to do that together.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives on the way! Actually social media where your data, privacy, time, emotions, person, and so on are respected. I could list some of them now, maybe in another blog, I’ll do that. But alternatives are very easy to find: here is a good place to start. Most of these alternatives are based on the philosophy of decentralization. We can opt en masse for other platforms and Big Tech’s ‘nefarious plans’ all fall apart.
We hope you enjoyed reading our first WWW blog post! Next Wednesday you can expect some brand new content.
Daan from Altruïs