The Blame Game: Holding tech giants accountable for users' choices

By Uluroo — December 19, 2017


When a technology company creates a product like a smartphone or service, it only naturally follows that said company is responsible for everything users do on those devices and services. So if you start to see examples of smartphone addiction, remember to blame Apple, Google, Facebook, or Twitter. The Big Four Big Brothers who, um, are able to keep all your notifications on.

Writing for TechCrunch, Ben Schippers says that "The technology industry needs to think more seriously about device addiction."

Consumers with their chosen apps, have hundreds of notifications turned on and thus are brought back to their phones at an alarming frequency.

Note that Ben mentions the word "chosen." He forgets it about five seconds later. He cites lots of scientific research that correlates excessive smartphone usage with anxiety and addiction-like symptoms. (For some reason, most of what Ben is talking about has to do with constant notifications.) Uluroo isn't trying to shoot down that science, because he certainly believes that device addiction is a problem.

...the big companies, Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Google remain vigilant toward advertising opportunities...

So Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Google are the bad guys here. Ummm.... what? For one, Apple is most definitely not geared toward advertising. But if you're upset about constant notifications drawing people back to their devices, Uluroo has a really neat feature to show you. You can turn your notifications off.

Ben Schippers: "Apple and Google are to blame for smartphone addiction!"

Apple and Google, confusedly: "What are you looking at us for? Users don't have to download apps!"

Facebook and Twitter, annoyedly: "What are you looking at us for? Users can just turn alerts off!"

The point Uluroo is trying to make here is that the hardware companies and app companies are not responsible for smartphone addiction. In the end, everything comes down to the user. Don't want constant notifications to bother you? Turn notifications off.

Uluroo isn't trying to downplay the consequences of device addiction. What he's saying is that we shouldn't paint the corporations as the villians here. Excessive smartphone usage is the choice of the excessive smartphone user. No more should we blame this on Apple and Google than we do texting and driving. People still have the choice. What Uluroo finds funny is that Ben even mentions a few third-party programs that help users manage and monitor their smartphone usage time. But these programs aren't designed to counteract Google's evil notifications; they're designed to help users make good choices.

When we actually want to solve the problem of smartphone overusage, we shouldn't go right ahead and pin the blame on the device manufacturers. Doin so doesn't actually help anyone. The way to make a change in a smartphone-tethered generation is to help users make good choices. Doing anything else is like suing Lay's after eating five party-size bags of potato chips.