How can we appeal to the masses, who do not seem all that interested in changing?

Hey everyone,

I am very inspired by the various topics posted here on the Center for Humane Tech Forum. We have brought up a lot of great ideas as well as possible solutions for the growing tech issue in our society.

I’m really curious as to what exactly people want? While I know “solutions” is the go-to answer, as I look around me I see many people not that interested in getting off their technology. They may say it’s an issue and that it needs to be fixed, but at the end of the day they like having the conveniences and entertainment always at-the-ready in the palm of their hands.

What can we create that will both solve this issue while appealing to the masses who aren’t that interested in changing?



Thanks for framing it this way – it’s easy to jump into ascetic solutions where you wait for the individual to become so frustrated or self-hating that they cut themselves off, without providing a more healthy substitute for whatever they were getting from the old behavior.

There’s a common thread of the positive feedback cycle of engagement and product development to increase engagement, but I’m not sure the individual’s motivations are always the same. But I’ll just brainstorm some things:

  • Fear of missing out in social engagements: somewhere in the chatter of social media, there may be an opportunity to connect with people that you really want to engage with.
  • Fear of being forgotten: do my friends, or the people I want to be my friends, know that I exist, or how I’m doing? This isn’t all wrong, I know I forget people myself if I don’t have a regular reason to think about them.
  • Procrastination: there’s something you should do, but you don’t want to do it. Maybe underlying this is an attempt to occupy your mind enough to avoid thinking about the thing that makes you feel bad (and in the case of “procrastination” you feel bad because you know you should do it, but you aren’t).
  • Dissociation generally: being in a crowded bus is more comfortable if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings. Seems to creep into everything being more comfortable if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Wanting to feel informed, so you can participate in discussions and feel competent.
  • Looking for a little amusement. Smiling faces, kitten pictures, etc., all give us some very simple pleasure.

So let’s take one that seems very negative: dissociation. I think there’s a simple answer that we should all just be better people, and never seek to dissociate. Get shit done, ponder your environment, look into the abyss of your soul, that sort of thing. But having everyone just be enlightened is a pretty solid non-starter! Is there a healthier way to give people what they want? Maybe it’s just an excuse not to obey their superego? Or a sense of control when the actual environment is beyond their control?


A healthier lifestyle is undeniably a logical positive. Less stimulus from technology is not necessarily positive. Is it presumptuous to hope for more substantive quality stimulus with less poetic and romantic distracting noise? I note that particle physicist Richard Feynman once said “To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven. [But beware, for] The same key opens the gates of hell. And so it is with science.” [emphasis added].


Thanks for your response, Ian. You bring up some great points…perhaps tackling this issue from a specific angle, like addressing one of the concerns you presented, is the best route to go instead of, as you mentioned, simply everyone being enlightened. Truly some good things to consider!

Hi Hex,
This is absolutely true. All the tools are there, whether it’s one’s goal to consume more technology or to disassociate with it. It’s all a matter of our habits and our choices for each individual. I wonder how we can inspire rather than simply educate.

Let their inspiration be sparked by their thirst for quality knowledge. Let their desire to use Feynman’s key motivate them into understanding that a decision not to use Feynman’s key is a decision not to decide which they can only maintain within their mortal lifetimes. In other words, let their be light, and let that union’s (crypto) currency read “In science we first learn, In God we then trust.” I say that only because money always seems to motivate people.


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And we should give props where props are due: inhumane tech, driven by profit or attention feedback cycles, takes people as they are. It doesn’t wish people to be different. It’s not a small task to do that, to figure out what that means and how people are, and there is a lot of trial and error involved with many failed attempts and failed ventures. Still, there’s something very accepting and inclusive about commercially-driven activity.

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As you can see, today I improved the forum somewhat, so that the strategic pillars of the CHT are clearer. There are 4 pillars, one reinforcing the next, and it goes something like this:

Cultural awakening & awareness --> Public opinion vs. Political pressure --> Engage employees --> Applying Humane Technology

It should be clear that - in order to reach the masses - it starts with raising awareness. Awareness on all fronts of (humane) technology, that will eventually lead to cultural change. The CHT organizaton, the core team - using their influence and network - are deeply involved in mobilizing forces to apply political pressure, both at the government level and in the top of big tech companies.The 2nd and 3rd pillars.

But as public awareness grows and the culture starts to change, then the broader public will also apply that political pressure. Things will start to move. This is a Network Effect - similar to how this works in social media. It will need to pick up steam.

This is also where engagement kicks in. We need to offer people alternatives, as you do with The Low Tech Trek. Tech is not going away, and has lots of positive potential for humanity too, but we need to ensure that the right tech is built.

The purpose of the third pillar is therefore to bring awareness and good practices to the workfloor. To involve and train employees and managers. And to offer them a treasure chest of best-practices and humane tech resources to help them do that, the last pillar of humane technology.

One thing is certain: Quick one-off solutions do not exist. Instead we’ll find and implement numerous small, incremental solutions and fixes all along the four strategic pillars, towards the vision of ‘Aligning technology to humanity’s best interests’.

(Regarding the problem there are indeed a lot of similarities to the tobacco industry and the public opinion on smoking, and we have a similar path to walk)


Hi everyone on this thread,

I am new to this community and came in here as my guts tell me there is something wrong with humanity merging with technology, although this seems to be a now accepted paradigm, as the first post here asserted: how to get people to disconnect, when they obviously seem to embrace it?

I was first planning to focus on smartphone and social media addictions, but after reading wonderful articles posted on this forum about social credits and the extent of very private data accumulation, now realize this would be a very superficial way to tackle the issue.

My idea was to produce one or more dramatic short videos to shock viewers into realizing that something has gotten really wrong with our behaviors and how we have in the process sold our most intimate details with profit-driven organizations, in exchange for immediate gratification.

I will likely soon start a new thread to brainstorm on how such videos could be produced. I believe in the power of imagery and music to inspire and change behaviors. Words can only go so far, and this generation’s short attention span cannot cater for educated lectures on the pitfalls of unrestricted us of technology.

In the meantime, I believe the TV series “Black Mirror” should constitute mandatory viewing. At the time, I could not believe social credits were a real thing. How shocking to realize our worst fears are only years away from materializing.


I’ve thought about this for a long time, and the answer isn’t finding better tools or anything like that. What people need is to know the truth through a shocking example–something that affects them directly.

A couple of days ago I wrote an article about this called Three Laws of Privacy: A Set of Rules to Build a Privacy Standard. I analyze in great depth the privacy problem and how to solve it.

The truth is, people who don’t think they have a problem don’t seek for a solution. It’s a simple as that.

Even though in my article I talk about privacy, the process is the same for getting people off their tech. What we’ve got to do is: (1) Find a useful and shocking example of how it is affecting them, and (2) Spread the word.


@borja I love your article on 3 laws of privacy! Would be great if you’d make it a separate topic here, and add some crosslinks to other privacy-related topics we have.

In the end we need both, raising awareness and getting people to change their habits, requires a full-spectrum approach. But I agree, regarding awareness, shocking - or otherwise creative - examples work best.

Agree. And we need to find many of them, and spread the word strategically, to have most impact.

@anon51879794 and I are discussing an awareness initiative in his topic Producing short dramatic videos to raise awareness

As an example of impactful - yet not truly shocking - work there is the new project of photographer Ritzo ten Cate, whom I spoke yesterday, on: Parents, their smartphone and their children:

A mother, her smartphone (and her child)

(see discussion on Phone Zombies for more examples, or look him up on Flickr where there is much more.)


Thanks @aschrijver, I’m glad you like the article. I’m going to create a separate topic for it.

Super interesting the Phone Zombies discussion, thanks for sharing :wink:

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Well stated!! It will certainly be a journey and I am excited to see so many dedicated practitioners from many different backgrounds looking to tackle this issue head on.

Hi @PatMc

I fully agree with your remark that education goes only so far, and inspiring could be valuable. I humbly started a new thread about producing impactful videos (dramatic but not so educational). Not sure if you saw it but would you be interested in joining the initiative?

Sorry if my efforts to reach out to more members seems like spam! Not yet used to this forum.


In summary, @ianbicking suggested that the way @PatMc has broadly framed this topic has refreshingly done away with the ascetic prerequisites of highly technical proposed solutions. The problems have been identified as “Inhumane tech, driven by profit or attention feedback cycles…” that are “accepting and inclusive” “commercially-driven activity.” In other words, a seductive “Pinocchio Pleasure Island” whose damages to society are creating “an Electronic Tower of Babel” made indiscriminately profitable by each non-substantive social utterance of the masses on the internet. Ultimately we asked, “Is there a healthier way to give people what they want?”

@aschrijver has observed a need to apply “political pressure, both at the government level and in the top of big tech companies,” and that “we need to ensure that the right tech is built,” being mindful that “Quick one-off solutions do not exist.” This CHT forum’s scattered proposed solutions has inspired @anon51879794 to ratchet up his awareness campaign from a symbolic one, to a more tacit video type presentation. And similar to my sociocybernetic proposed solution, @borja wrote a blog about laws on the internet and AI powered robotics. In the process, Borja identified the most critical reason why this thread is so successful. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned with design, is that you can’t design anything properly until you see the problem.” Is it the government’s responsibility to provide that healthier alternative to the problem, or is it the responsibility of the Tech Giants?

We, here in this thread, merely be being here and voicing our opinions, have taken the initiative to say that neither of these two first options is the correct choice. The cold and hard reality teaches us that the responsibility is ours and ours alone. I suggest that we have that responsibility because we see a problem that others do not see or fully comprehend. We should not expect others to assist us with resolving a problem they do not see or understand, whether by lack of motivation or the lack of uniform tools enabling those subjective realizations to be resolved.

As Aschrijver said, “we’ll find and implement numerous small, incremental solutions and fixes all along the four strategic pillars [of the CHT], towards the vision of ‘Aligning technology to humanity’s best interests’.” But whom or what are we aligning? For example, while Bitcoin may be better understood by the Millennials, the elder generation see no value to Bitcoin, let alone the technical details of its underlying block chain technology. A chemical response occurs in the elder generation’s brains when they come in contact with greenbacks because they’ve known and interacted with greenbacks their entire life. They trust the government’s currency which is collaterally backed only by the government’s own withering GDP and decorum. Likewise, Facebook asks us to trust it even though the way it has been loosely governed may be responsible, at least in part, for the election of Donald Trump to the White House.

I suggest that those who understand the problems we’ve identified in this thread all belong to the same union whose objectives are “the production of a theoretical framework as well as information technology tools for responding to the basic challenges individuals, couples, families, groups, companies, organizations, countries, international affairs are facing today.” Cheers to all who have contributed so far.



Hi @Hex

My humble opinion: tech companies figured out what we want, they provide it, get rich on it, and then exploit it further, creating new needs from the market as AI gets more sophisticated. As businesses, they are justified in bringing to market products and services we all want. The government? Stay out of business, let demand/supply effectively legislate unless someone really abuses its monopolistic power to impose prices and its own offering. The question is “What portion of the population worries that much about the increasing influence and risks associated with big tech companies?” The probable answer: very few. If this is the case then, where do we get the mandate to demand changes to all this? There is no powerful grassroot movement. Sad observation, but I am afraid, true. Is there a NRA-equivalent, with the means of effective lobbying, who is strong of millions of members?

In my view, the issue is demand. We love it, I love it. I also hate it, but I’m no better than anyone.

A good allusion is drugs or standard addictions. Let’s say I am an alcoholic. I keep drinking but of course I hate myself for it. Would someone offer me a life-changing experience after which I willl be transformed? I would embrace it.

Hence the topic of shocking audiences with short, dramatic videos which can find at Producing short dramatic videos to raise awareness. A modest proposal that could do some help in this process of waking up.

Would love for you to be involved.


Hi everyone,
While our phones give us what we want in the short term we are left feeling empty and dissatisfied in the long term. The dopamine hits only give us so much. We can appeal to the masses by giving them what they truly want: clarity, peace, connection to life beyond the screen.

I’m with @aschrijver . Cultural awakening & awareness is the first mobilizing force in the healing of our digital addiction. At this point we need stories and campaigns that inspire the masses to walk the fine line between addiction and necessity. We need to spark self-restraint by telling stories about what we can reclaim.

Here is my story… In 2017 I walked alone from Washington D.C to Los Angeles to research phone addiction. I walked 20-30 miles everyday, slept in people lawns and interviewed people about their relationship to technology. Ironically, I was addicted to my own device for most of the journey. It wasn’t until the desert that cell service went out and I was left in the silence to practice what I preached. I found that beyond distraction life is far more rich and exciting that our digital media could ever be. Ever since my journey I have been telling my story at high schools to inspire young people to explore life beyond the screen. (

Two days ago I released a short documentary filmed while I was in the desert at mile 2900. I need your help. Stories about digital health are the engine of cultural awakening. Please watch and share this video. I think you and your communities would enjoy it.

Thank you for your attention and good work.


Hi Chris, @LetsTalkUSA ! Indeed a wonderful video. You lived life to the fullest… and an excellent way to reconsider your behavior wrt tech, change habits.

As you may have noticed, we have started an initiative - fully crowdsourced - to launch our own awareness campaigns on all things (humane) tech. You are welcome to join, and - if you like - you could create your own theme, launch campaigns. If not, we could - with your permission - include your video’s in our promotions, whenever they fit the campaign’s strategy (we are starting a ‘Tech Wise’ theme, for instance to target children at schools, for education of teachers, and improving their own tech use).



Could not agree more. We are all aligned here, as you put it, we need to separate the practical from the addictive - and dangerous. The experience you went through was life-changing. It is what we need to offer to challenge the passive acceptance of this new form of addiction.

As @aschrijver said, would be great to see you join this initiative of raising awareness and shocking the audience into self-realizations.

Here is the link to the Github repository for your convenience: