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  • So, a few years ago I heard an interesting rumor.

  • Apparently, the head of a large pet food company

  • would go into the annual shareholder's meeting

  • with can of dog food.

  • And he would eat the can of dog food.

  • And this was his way of convincing them that if it was good enough for him,

  • it was good enough for their pets.

  • This strategy is now known as "dogfooding,"

  • and it's a common strategy in the business world.

  • It doesn't mean everyone goes in and eats dog food,

  • but businesspeople will use their own products

  • to demonstrate that they feel --

  • that they're confident in them.

  • Now, this is a widespread practice,

  • but I think what's really interesting is when you find exceptions

  • to this rule,

  • when you find cases of businesses or people in businesses

  • who don't use their own products.

  • Turns out there's one industry where this happens in a common way,

  • in a pretty regular way,

  • and that is the screen-based tech industry.

  • So, in 2010, Steve Jobs, when he was releasing the iPad,

  • described the iPad as a device that was "extraordinary."

  • "The best browsing experience you've ever had;

  • way better than a laptop, way better than a smartphone.

  • It's an incredible experience."

  • A couple of months later, he was approached by a journalist

  • from the New York Times,

  • and they had a long phone call.

  • At the end of the call,

  • the journalist threw in a question that seemed like a sort of softball.

  • He said to him, "Your kids must love the iPad."

  • There's an obvious answer to this,

  • but what Jobs said really staggered the journalist.

  • He was very surprised,

  • because he said, "They haven't used it.

  • We limit how much technology our kids use at home."

  • This is a very common thing in the tech world.

  • In fact, there's a school quite near Silicon Valley

  • called the Waldorf School of the Peninsula,

  • and they don't introduce screens until the eighth grade.

  • What's really interesting about the school

  • is that 75 percent of the kids who go there

  • have parents who are high-level Silicon Valley tech execs.

  • So when I heard about this, I thought it was interesting and surprising,

  • and it pushed me to consider what screens were doing to me

  • and to my family and the people I loved,

  • and to people at large.

  • So for the last five years,

  • as a professor of business and psychology,

  • I've been studying the effect of screens on our lives.

  • And I want to start by just focusing on how much time they take from us,

  • and then we can talk about what that time looks like.

  • What I'm showing you here is the average 24-hour workday

  • at three different points in history:

  • 2007 -- 10 years ago --

  • 2015

  • and then data that I collected, actually, only last week.

  • And a lot of things haven't changed

  • all that much.

  • We sleep roughly seven-and-a-half to eight hours a day;

  • some people say that's declined slightly, but it hasn't changed much.

  • We work eight-and-a-half to nine hours a day.

  • We engage in survival activities --

  • these are things like eating and bathing and looking after kids --

  • about three hours a day.

  • That leaves this white space.

  • That's our personal time.

  • That space is incredibly important to us.

  • That's the space where we do things that make us individuals.

  • That's where hobbies happen, where we have close relationships,

  • where we really think about our lives, where we get creative,

  • where we zoom back and try to work out

  • whether our lives have been meaningful.

  • We get some of that from work as well,

  • but when people look back on their lives

  • and wonder what their lives have been like

  • at the end of their lives,

  • you look at the last things they say --

  • they are talking about those moments that happen in that white personal space.

  • So it's sacred; it's important to us.

  • Now, what I'm going to do is show you

  • how much of that space is taken up by screens across time.

  • In 2007,

  • this much.

  • That was the year that Apple introduced the first iPhone.

  • Eight years later,

  • this much.

  • Now, this much.

  • That's how much time we spend of that free time in front of our screens.

  • This yellow area, this thin sliver, is where the magic happens.

  • That's where your humanity lives.

  • And right now, it's in a very small box.

  • So what do we do about this?

  • Well, the first question is:

  • What does that red space look like?

  • Now, of course, screens are miraculous

  • in a lot of ways.

  • I live in New York,

  • a lot of my family lives in Australia,

  • and I have a one-year-old son.

  • The way I've been able to introduce them to him is with screens.

  • I couldn't have done that 15 or 20 years ago

  • in quite the same way.

  • So there's a lot of good that comes from them.

  • One thing you can do is ask yourself:

  • What goes on during that time?

  • How enriching are the apps that we're using?

  • And some are enriching.

  • If you stop people while they're using them and say,

  • "Tell us how you feel right now,"

  • they say they feel pretty good about these apps --

  • those that focus on relaxation, exercise, weather, reading,

  • education and health.

  • They spend an average of nine minutes a day on each of these.

  • These apps make them much less happy.

  • About half the people, when you interrupt them and say, "How do you feel?"

  • say they don't feel good about using them.

  • What's interesting about these --

  • dating, social networking, gaming,

  • entertainment, news, web browsing --

  • people spend 27 minutes a day on each of these.

  • We're spending three times longer on the apps that don't make us happy.

  • That doesn't seem very wise.

  • One of the reasons we spend so much time on these apps

  • that make us unhappy

  • is they rob us of stopping cues.

  • Stopping cues were everywhere in the 20th century.

  • They were baked into everything we did.

  • A stopping cue is basically a signal that it's time to move on,

  • to do something new, to do something different.

  • And -- think about newspapers; eventually you get to the end,

  • you fold the newspaper away, you put it aside.

  • The same with magazines, books -- you get to the end of a chapter,

  • prompts you to consider whether you want to continue.

  • You watched a show on TV, eventually the show would end,

  • and then you'd have a week until the next one came.

  • There were stopping cues everywhere.

  • But the way we consume media today is such that there are no stopping cues.

  • The news feed just rolls on,

  • and everything's bottomless: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,

  • email, text messaging, the news.

  • And when you do check all sorts of other sources,

  • you can just keep going on and on and on.

  • So, we can get a cue about what to do from Western Europe,

  • where they seem to have a number of pretty good ideas in the workplace.

  • Here's one example. This is a Dutch design firm.

  • And what they've done is rigged the desks to the ceiling.

  • And at 6pm every day,

  • it doesn't matter who you're emailing or what you're doing,

  • the desks rise to the ceiling.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Four days a week, the space turns into a yoga studio,

  • one day a week, into a dance club.

  • It's really up to you which ones you stick around for.

  • But this is a great stopping rule,

  • because it means at the end of the day,

  • everything stops, there's no way to work.

  • At Daimler, the German car company, they've got another great strategy.

  • When you go on vacation,

  • instead of saying, "This person's on vacation,

  • they'll get back to you eventually,"

  • they say, "This person's on vacation, so we've deleted your email.

  • This person will never see the email you just sent."

  • (Laughter)

  • "You can email back in a couple of weeks,

  • or you can email someone else."

  • (Laughter)

  • And so --

  • (Applause)

  • You can imagine what that's like.

  • You go on vacation, and you're actually on vacation.

  • The people who work at this company feel

  • that they actually get a break from work.

  • But of course, that doesn't tell us much

  • about what we should do at home in our own lives,

  • so I want to make some suggestions.

  • It's easy to say, between 5 and 6pm, I'm going to not use my phone.

  • The problem is, 5 and 6pm looks different on different days.

  • I think a far better strategy is to say,

  • I do certain things every day,

  • there are certain occasions that happen every day,

  • like eating dinner.

  • Sometimes I'll be alone,

  • sometimes with other people,

  • sometimes in a restaurant,

  • sometimes at home,

  • but the rule that I've adopted is: I will never use my phone at the table.

  • It's far away,

  • as far away as possible.

  • Because we're really bad at resisting temptation.

  • But when you have a stopping cue that, every time dinner begins,

  • my phone goes far away,

  • you avoid temptation all together.

  • At first, it hurts.

  • I had massive FOMO.

  • (Laughter)

  • I struggled.

  • But what happens is, you get used to it.

  • You overcome the withdrawal the same way you would from a drug,

  • and what happens is, life becomes more colorful, richer,

  • more interesting --

  • you have better conversations.

  • You really connect with the people who are there with you.

  • I think it's a fantastic strategy,

  • and we know it works, because when people do this --

  • and I've tracked a lot of people who have tried this --

  • it expands.

  • They feel so good about it,

  • they start doing it for the first hour of the day in the morning.

  • They start putting their phones on airplane mode on the weekend.

  • That way, your phone remains a camera, but it's no longer a phone.

  • It's a really powerful idea,

  • and we know people feel much better about their lives when they do this.

  • So what's the take home here?

  • Screens are miraculous; I've already said that,

  • and I feel that it's true.

  • But the way we use them is a lot like driving down a really fast, long road,

  • and you're in a car where the accelerator is mashed to the floor,

  • it's kind of hard to reach the brake pedal.

  • You've got a choice.

  • You can either glide by, past, say, the beautiful ocean scenes

  • and take snaps out the window -- that's the easy thing to do --

  • or you can go out of your way to move the car to the side of the road,

  • to push that brake pedal,

  • to get out,

  • take off your shoes and socks,

  • take a couple of steps onto the sand,

  • feel what the sand feels like under your feet,

  • walk to the ocean,

  • and let the ocean lap at your ankles.

  • Your life will be richer and more meaningful

  • because you breathe in that experience,

  • and because you've left your phone in the car.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

So, a few years ago I heard an interesting rumor.

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A2 US TED stopping apps email vacation strategy

【TED】Adam Alter: Why our screens make us less happy (Why our screens make us less happy | Adam Alter)

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    Amy.Lin posted on 2017/10/19
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