This simple hack stopped me from being a slave to technology

Check out the video above where I share a simple hack that has stopped me from being a slave to technology. If you can’t watch the video right now, you can read through the transcript below.

This video today is about the false promise of the communication revolution. You see, technology companies are turning us into mindless drones. Well, I’ve decided to take control of my life back. I’ve implemented a very simple hack for my daily life. I’m getting my life back — it’s not being taken by social media platforms anymore. I’m finally connecting with myself every single day. I’m going to share this simple hack with you in this video.

First let’s talk a little about the social media platforms. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have completely changed the world. I think it is absolutely remarkable that information can be shared by everyday by people like me and it can be reached all around the world to anyone with an internet connection. As the rest of the world comes online, it completely opens everything up. It’s changing the economies, it makes the world much more efficient and it really does make the world a better place.

Yet, the reality is that these platforms haven’t really changed the world in the way that we think. Think about Facebook at the moment. There’s a massive problem of fake news, of very negative information being shared. It’s very difficult to know what to believe.

The reason fake news can actually spread on Facebook in the first place comes from the way Facebook has been designed. You see, Facebook bases its success on the amount of time you spend inside the app. And they’ve hired hundreds of designers who work at making you get addicted to the platform. They figured out how to send you notifications that will hit you at that exact moment that they need to bring you back in to the app to keep you on the app. People spend a huge amount of time figuring all of this out.


But the really key thing is the Facebook news feed. When they invented that, they realized that Facebook can serve the purpose, not only of connecting you with your friends and family but also in connecting you with what’s happening in the world around you. It was created as a way to compete with Twitter when Twitter was starting to become a key news and information service. It was very disruptive for media sites all around the world. People started to get their information from Twitter so Facebook had to compete.

What they ended up creating was this hybrid where people just mindlessly go to Facebook to login just to see what’s happening. They’re not thinking that they’re there to actually look up the news. But then you see in the newsfeed that articles start to hit you. Well, Facebook want you to spend as much as time as possible inside the app. They want to serve you relevant information. They measure how many times you click on those articles, how long you spend on those articles and whether you actually react to the article — you share it and comment it and try to start a conversation with your friends. That’s what serves Facebook’s interest — it keep you inside the app, it keeps you using Facebook and it means that it can keep on serving up advertisements to use that can keep on making money and their share price can keep on growing.

It all sounds fine except that people have learned to manipulate the Facebook news feed. Publishers know that when they create content that enrages you, that makes you emotional, that makes you react, you are more likely to share it and that way just keep on feeding the algorithm, showing that you’re there and then Facebook keeps on serving more content like that to you.

You see, the way human beings are programmed is that we react to emotions. We’re very emotional creatures so if we ever see content inside the Facebook newsfeed that either makes us feel a huge amount of joy and very excited, we’re likely to go to that and read the articles, click on links and share it again.

But at the same token and much more likely, if information makes us enraged, that’s what’s really going to make us act and the majority of information is designed that way to make you, to trigger that deep anger really deep down inside us.

Think about when you’re driving along and you see a car crash, you cannot help but look. We’re programmed that way, we always have to look out for threats. Well, that’s how the Facebook newsfeed has evolved. It’s evolved to trigger these deeper emotions of anger inside us and that’s the information that we’re actually being programmed to go into Facebook for.

Don’t just take my word for it, on Ideapod we published an article where a former Facebook executive said:

Interviewer: I wanna bring us back to the point that you’re making about exploiting consumer behavior in a consumer internet business. You said that this is the time for soul searching in social media businesses and you were part of building the largest one. What soul searching are you doing right now on that?

Facebook Executive: I felt tremendous guilt. I think we all knew at the back of our minds, even though we think this whole line of like they’re probably aren’t any bad unintended consequences. I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds, we kind of knew, something bad could happen. But I think the way we defined it was not like this. It literally is at a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are. And I would encourage all of you as the future leaders of the world to really internalize how important this is. If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it and rein it in. And it is a point in time where people need to hard break from some of these tools and the things that you rely on. The short-term dopamine driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works.

Justin: It’s been one of our most wildly successful articles because I think it’s triggered something deep down inside people where they realize this is actually what’s going on. We’ve been programmed by Facebook.

The problem is that we’re addicted to Facebook. It gets to the point that people feel shadows of vibrations in their legs. Does that ever happen to you that you actually just feel like there’s been some sort of notifications and you’re reaching for your phone and then you go to it? It definitely happens to me. And I found that I was getting completely addicted.

Then I tried using Twitter in the same way and it started to become a bit of an addiction as well and I realized that I’m becoming addicted to these technology platforms that promised me so much. They promised me liberation where I could finally connect with information all around the world and I realized I was completely addicted — I was a slave to my phone.

That’s why I had to develop a hack that finally helped me liberate myself from my phone and take control of my life again. This simple hack is all about taking control back from technology and it’s about what you do with your phone at the start and at the end of your day.


So what I do before I go to bed, I make sure that my phone is away from the bed charging in airplane mode so that I’ve actually got to get up to get to the phone. The reason I do this is that the start of the days is really the most important moment. That moment when you move from dreams into reality is one of the most powerful moments for programming your minds because when we’re dreaming, studies are being done that show that while we’re dreaming, is when we’re forming new neural networks, new patterns. Our brain goes through what happened the day before and it starts to identify the challenges and the stressful moments and it starts to reconfigure what’s in the brain to try to come up with new solutions.

That’s why when we experience new ideas, it feels like an aha moment because it just comes to us like a flash. Although the reality is that probably your brain has formed and configured that new idea while you’re sleeping. Maybe not the night before but in the previous nights. And then you’ve just put yourself in the situation where you can experience that challenge again, when you can push up against the limit and you experience that rush, that aha moment and almost feels like the idea already existed inside you like you’ve channeled it in some way. Well, probably, you came up with that idea while you were sleeping. Sleeping is such a powerful moment.

When we shift from the dreaming state back into reality when we first wake up, that’s the most powerful moment for programming our mind for actually thinking of these different issues and challenges in a conscious waking state while still being in that state when the brain is being reconfigured.

Well, the majority of us now, the first thing we do in the morning as we shift from dreams into reality is we reach for our phone and the chances are that you are possibly looking for your emails but a lot of us are going straight into a platform like Facebook, maybe one of the other ones as well. And then we get that same information screaming at us for attention activating our fight or flight system, showing us all of the terrible things going on in the world or maybe some of the really joyful, wonderful moments in getting us into a pretty active and happy state which is not such a bad thing at all. But the reality is that most of us pretty mindlessly reaching us in our Facebook newsfeed and that’s how our mind is being programmed in the morning — the most powerful moment of the day. It’s the first thing we do, we reach for our phones that’s why you need to keep your phone away from your bed in airplane mode and charging and enjoy those first moments of the day when you shift from the dreaming state back in to reality.

The next thing I do is I leave my phone charging until it’s fully charged in airplane mode and then I get moving with my body. I’m currently in Brazil visiting the shaman Rudá Iandé and this is the perfect place for me to implement these new routines. You see, I’m out in nature, he lives in a beautiful property outside Curitiba with a bit of a jungle connected to his place. And what it’s done is that it inspired me to get outside and to move my body. So I do pretty simple exercises to get moving and try to keep as fit as I possibly can. And it sets the tone for my body and it starts the day because I find that then I can really integrate what’s happened during the night and in my initial moments of waking up and think about the day ahead while I’m actually moving my body. Then it means that I’m starting to plan what’s going to happen that day in a very active state where I’m connecting with who I am deep down inside. It really sets the tone for a wonderful day.

Next thing I do and it’s a little different to keeping the phone away but after I’ve turned on the phone and I figured out my tasks for the day, I identify the thing that needs to be done that’s the hardest for me to do.


A friend of mine I know from Mind Valley Academy, she posted on my Facebook page recently saying that she likes to slay the dragon at the beginning of the day and it’s the perfect thing to do. What you do is you pick that most difficult task that you just don’t really want to do and you knock it over as the first task of that day before you enter this world of Facebook and catch up with everything that’s going on, you just knock over the task.

So for me yesterday, I absolutely hate this kind of work but I did our accounting for Ideapod. I’ve been meaning to catch up on this for a long time — I’ve got people at me for it so I finally sat down and just did the things I needed to do. You see, once you’ve set the tone for your day, you wake up in this very wonderful state where you’re integrating what you’ve learned the other night, you’ve slayed the dragon, you get started then I think you can start to enter the world of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Google and everything else like that and use them the way that they’re meant to be used which are tools for us.

For us doing mindful things, for us taking control of our lives, for us doing what actually serves our greater purpose. You see, I use these platforms all the time, it changed my life and I love using them but I’m using them in a much more mindful way because I get my day off to really great start.

This is basically my very simple hack that I’ve implemented into my life to take control back from technology — to not be a slave to these platforms, to not be completely addicted. I’m now more able to use these platforms to serve my greater purpose — to connect with my loved ones, to have access to information, to get things done, I think these platforms are really wonderful in that way. I think if you implement these very simple hacks into your own daily life, I really hope that you too won’t be a slave to technology.

NOW READ: 8 ways that technology hijacks your mind, according to a Google philosopher

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Written by Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibility.

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