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Big tech companies manipulate our behaviors. Can we control them?

We need to decide how we let technology platforms influence us

Big tech companies manipulate our behaviors. Can we control them?
post-2018 iPhone
Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash
Technologist | Ethicist | Strategist
https://www.linkedin.com/in/shreyawadhwa/

It's no secret that companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Google utilize user data to target users with ads and monitor their behaviors. Shoshana Zuboff, Harvard professor and philosopher, writes in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism that "My will and yours threaten the flow of surveillance revenues. Its aim is not to destroy us but to author us and profit from that authorship." Infringement on your or my free will is a chilling prospect, but Shoshana is right. The easier it is for big tech companies to influence our behaviors, the more they can profit (it feels parasitic).


I believe we live in a world where we have free will, a sort of distinctive control of our behaviors and actions, which also serves as the premise of moral responsibility. If we have the knowledge to think about our behaviors' implications, then we have an obligation to do so. Knowing how tech giants are using our information gives us the responsibility to deliberate on how we should use these platforms. The decision we come to on how to interact with tech platforms is something Aristotle would kindly inform us on— our deliberate desires.

A worthwhile deliberation is digital minimalism, a concept Georgetown professor and author Cal Newport introduced. Newport defines digital minimalism as "a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support the things that you value."

We are responsible for thinking through how we interact with our digital environment, and we are capable of molding our digital footprint.

How our mothers' lessons shaped us into the people we are today

We need mom's message to get through.


Eeva Rehnström, in her graduation cap. Four years later, she became my mother. (1931-2012)

Photo courtesy of Dr.Jaana Rehnström, the Founder of The Kota Alliance
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A special bond exists, in all cultures, between mothers and their children. Fathers are important as well, of course, but due to the very early bonding arising from feeding and nurturing, a child's emotional life is strongly affected by the mother.

Nine years after my own mother passed away at 81-years-old, I think about the role mothers play in developing our sense of right and wrong. Sometimes all it takes is a response to an innocent question.

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A Parent's Hangover Survival Guide

Surviving a hangover with small children can be tough - here's my guide to getting through it

This bank holiday weekend I got a bit over excited about being able to see people in real life and had way too many margaritas. And I paid for it the next day. Hangover days BC (before children) involved lots of sleep and only emerging from the bed or sofa to answer the door to pizza.

Ah, those were the days. When you have small children, hangovers require a different strategy; here's my advice on how to survive a hangover when you have kids.

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