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

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.


@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.)


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:

Hey @PatMc, as others have noted, I think this is a very important question. I, for now, have kinda come to the conclusion that it’s difficult to convince “the masses” (which I read as “everyone”) that they’re being harmed. I think the way forward is to build an elite group of people on whom such appeals aren’t lost. Therein also lies, I think, the way to monetizing the “good apps” that some of us are building.

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The proposed dichotomy: On one hand, an “elite” who actively seeks enlightenment and ideally contributes to impacting society. On the other hand, the “masses”, who seem unwilling or incapable to face the facts and do anything about it.

To be honest, I dislike making this difference. Anyone, be he educated or not, curious or not, is prey to the negative sides of rapid technology adoption. For instance, I would hate to think that the CHT core team considers themselves an elite with a higher purpose than mere mortals.


I didn’t mean “elite = educated”. I meant “elite = not prey to…”

Be that as it may, my point is – it may be very very difficult to “appeal to the masses”. We just appeal in the best way we can (and I totally laud CHT’s efforts here), and the masses slowly trickle into the elite group (“elite” defined as above). Business owners who want to take the “good tech” route, I think I’ve concluded, have no option but to tap into the pockets of this elite. IMHO, the masses don’t pay; they facebook.

It is always helpful to keep in mind the separation of missions between the CHT core team (top-down approach, involved in lobbying and speaking truth to power), and the community here (bottom-up approach, forming a grassroots movement).

As all the comments here highlight, the first meaningful, and potentially very impactful, step this community can take is raising awareness (let us call our target audience the “general public” instead of the “masses”) by shocking the public into self-realizations that have eluded us since the advent of the smartphone.

Not until we have this in place, in the process leading the public to seek further information on humane tech, will there be a powerful grassroots movement. At that point, we will have a much stronger mandate and support to spearhead advocacy projects.


Wow, this is an insightful discussion on a sentiment that has frustrated me to no end throughout my digital wellness journey. My current mindset is very closely aligned with @aschrijver & @LetsTalkUSA in that I believe the most important step is awareness - and not just that we face this problem, but that we are not equipped to deal with it effectively as individuals. It will take a group effort to inspire change in the habits of “the masses” and I’m more confident than ever in this group’s vision for doing so.


Oliver Stone warns people about smartphones at the beginning of his film Snowden. But how many viewers heeded his words? Very few I would guess. A student told me some years ago that when you learn the wrong way to do something, you must practice the right way several times.

I agree, but Snowden’s message was in large part highly technical, and his revelations have had huge, and lasting effects in the tech world. He may have contributed, together with a load of other revelations (FB/CA, data leaks, etc.) to the first seeds of awareness. A slightly creepy feeling when using tech, but that you still quickly put in the back of your head and ignore.

But, yes, his type of ‘campaign’ was not optimally targeted to the masses, we can conclude :slight_smile:


Good food for thought. I, for one, was very much freaked out by the whole incident. But as you rightly point out, we (myself included) move on and don’t change anything in our behaviors. It was scary indeed, but at the end of the day, most people feel they are very unlikely to be the target of their government’s prying eyes.

After all, most of us are not criminals, so this does not apply to us. The point to retain from all this Snowden affair though, and which we should highlight in all our campaigns, is that we have actively given away our privacy, not to the government (which we rightly believe, cannot charge us for any crime) but to tech companies, which were more than happy to cooperate with the government.

Our private information is worth A LOT OF MONEY. Say you want to hire a private investigator. You will have to pay a lot to get private details about someone. This is a costly affair.

Now with tech companies, who knows where your private data goes. You’re not paying for anything. Do you think there’s such a thing as a free lunch? You see where this is going.

Right now, I believe tech companies are, on the whole, innocent. There was already much to gain by providing advertisers with segmentation and market data, customer feedback and so on. But in the future, there lies a big risk that things will get increasingly, and disturbingly intimate and private.

Let us raise public awareness about the major risks associated with disclosing anything private online. The general rule of thumb would be “any detail you enter online should be something you would be entirely comfortable sharing with the whole world”


A post was split to a new topic: Firefox Monitor: Find out if your personal data was ever part of a Data Breach

Yes, borja, I commented on your Medium post and have pointed several of my colleagues to it. It is an important topic.
With regards to what I would like to see; I think it needs to start with a more comprehensive legal framework defining privacy and what the public’s rights are. Currently, the global public is unwittingly engaging in a huge social experiment… with many unintended consequences (and some intended). There are significant economic consequences, such as job destruction, that might have been avoided.
It is hard to do justice to the topic on a message board, but I hope this community gains momentum and I intend on telling people to join us!