The fiction of ‘digital wellness’—and the truth of digital dependence


I know I’m showing my age, but when I was a young whippersnapper, we were always being nagged not to watch so much of the so-called “boob tube.” Specifically, we were advised to read actual books (but not, heaven help us, comic books or Mad magazine) and to refrain from Gilligan’s Island and all of that junk once and for all.

But when I became a mature adult and TV evolved into the rich cornucopia of streaming, mobile, on-demand, and other entertainment services we have today, nobody seemed to worry about that as much as they used to. Instead, society changed to the point where it suddenly became hip to binge on whatever we now consider TV, especially on the prestige stuff on HBO, Showtime, and Netflix.

Now, we’re being told that the real junk is on the internet, and what’s truly rotting our minds are those addictive apps on our smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets.

Google’s “digital wellness” is a feel-good feint

In recent months in the tech industry, the topic of “digital wellness” has entered the news cycle in connection with Google’s preannouncement of its forthcoming next-generation smartphone operating system, . As reporters digested Google’s discussion of Android P’s app timer, wind down, do not disturb, and other “digital wellness” features designed to gently unglue our hands and eyeballs from our devices, I couldn’t help chuckling.