Digital Wellbeing

Denzel Washington – “Are you using your device or is your device using you?”

You may already have heard Denzel Washington ripping into tech giants as a source of information overload, fake news and unhealthy device dependency.  His pithy quotes have been integrated into a couple of video clips from Be Inspired on the potential hazards of digital media for human wellbeing.

The two clips embedded below feature quotes from Denzel and other top digital detractors (Dr. Cal Newport, Bill Maher, Simon Sinek, ex-Google’s Tristan Harris, and ex-Facebook’s Chamath Palihapitiya…) (thanks to Lars Lehne for sharing). Featuring fabulous art from Steve Cutts the videos summarise the case against Big Tech…

  • Creating digital dependency with addictive products and services 
  • Spreading fake news that plays to biases and prejudices
  • Contributing to stress, anxiety and anti-social behaviour

The clips are hyperbolic, alarmist – and depending on your point of view – alarming. They certainly add fuel to the fire – and ire – against Big Tech.  But without nuance, the rant against digital can be dismissed as a moral panic not dissimilar to the “novel-fever,” “reading addiction,” and “reading mania” that came with with the printing press (people reading alone becoming anti-social, addicted to print media and corrupted by harmful information).

Perhaps we need digital literacy more than we need a digital detox?

Nevertheless, the two videos summarise the current “Tech-lash” nicely and contain some rather quotable quotes…

“Are you using your device or is your device using you?” – Denzel Washington

“Checking your likes is the new smoking” – Bill Maher

“The short-term dopamine driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works” – Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth, Facebook, on Facebook

“Philip Morris just wanted your lungs the AppStore wants your soul” – Bill Maher

We now know that many of the major social media companies hire individuals called “attention engineers” who borrow principles from Las Vegas casino gambling to try to make these products as addictive as possible which maximises the profits” – Dr. Cal Newport

The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in t-shirts selling an addictive product” – Bill Maher

We don’t have enough in common anymore and that’s because the internet which was supposed to unite the world has become too adept at serving us personalized content” – Bill Maher

My biggest concern is the unfettered access to social media and cellphones because there’s biology to these things that are addictive as addictive as alcohol, nicotine and gambling” – Simon Sinek

Technology is not neutral, they want you to use it in particular ways and for long periods of time, because that’s how they make their money” – Tristan Harris


Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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