Community Can Offer a Cure to Our Technology Addiction

Dovetail Labs Founder Alexa Hagerty writes about the need for community to overcome the pernicious impacts of technological insularity: "The solution isn't to turn off our phones; it's to develop social, economic and political structures that address deeper issues of disconnection.” Read more in the Pacific Standard

This article is part of Understanding Gen Z, a collaboration between Pacific Standard and Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, which investigates the historical context and social science research that helps explain the next generation.

“As an anthropologist interested in the social effects of technology, I'd like to offer a provocation: Designers appeal not to what is lowest in us, but rather to what is most profound—our need to be part of a social group. Our obsessive phone-checking is driven not by our vanity but by our deepest humanity. We are not in the grips of meaningless distraction. On the contrary, we are giving our attention to a matter of critical importance: our life-and-death need to belong.“

“We are attached to our phones, but maybe we should be considering the question of contemporary tech use in terms of "attachment theory"—that is, in reference to our sublime human capacity to form loving relationships. Our interactions with our technology reflect a human need to belong, and our human capacity to love and be loved. The solution is not to gray-out our screens or turn off our phones; it is to develop social, economic, and political structures that address our deeper cultural issues of social disconnection and overwork, allowing us the time and energy we need for the critical task of nurturing our meaningful relationships. Without social connection, we live in sterile cages.“

Igor Rubinov