Problem One

Social Media

Products like Facebook, TikTok, and Youtube operate in the attention economy and are appropriately dubbed “Surveillance capitalists.” They may not deliberately have set out to become the four horsemen of the privacy crisis, but they surely intended to at least change our social lives forever. And they did.

Especially for those most manipulable and defenseless; those who haven't yet discovered who they are; those who instead of having relationships are their relationships: young people. Suicide among young people has gone up by 56% in the last decade; outpacing the average trend. Tweens (10-14) hospitalized for self-harm have been up +189% since 2009 (3). Over the same period, suicide among girls between 15-19 has increased +70%. Psychologists like Jonathan Haidt urge us to restrict screen time to a maximum of 2 hours a day (4). Going over 2 hours reliably promises a surge in anxiety, depression, and suicide. In reality, however, average teens (13-18) currently spend 7 hours and 5 minutes on screens on any given day (5). This does not include school or homework. But averages are misleading because the behaviors vary widely; 18% percent of both teens and tweens in the US are glued to their screen for about +10 hours a day. More generally, psychologists warn us that this is not normal. Anxiety is now 20x more prevalent than it was two decades ago. Suicide is 10x more prevalent than fifty years ago (6). On average we now have 50% fewer ties who we consider to be “close friends” (7). 

Some might argue that social networks are solely responsible for the Social Dilemma. At Telos, however, unexpected to some perhaps, we believe there is a second culprit: time management.


Problem two

Time Mangement

Picture yourself on your death bed…what are you going to regret? You don’t have to wait. I can tell you right now. Below are the reliable answers all people give according to Susie Steiner’s research. In all honesty, I can see myself definitely making some mistakes, perhaps you can too. In the end, we all regret omissions — the things that we haven’t done. We are so engrossed by the velocity and volume of life that what is urgent takes precedence over what is truly important. Why is it that we all wind up making the same mistakes in the end? (9)

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. 
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

The question is if all of this is still unexpected if one takes into account the considerable exposer these platforms demand. Below you will find a graph displaying the entirety of an average western citizen' life (84 years). Social media, with the conservative Daily Active Use (DAU) of 2 hours and 9 min, will clock in over the course of their life 6 years and 11 months of continuously glancing passively onto their screens. Accompanied with 8 years on 9 months of watching series and movies things really start adding up. For the overwhelming majority of people, this has most definitely not been a conscious decision.

Life Time Use (LTU) adds up.

As William James observed, our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or the default.

Is a product free if we have to bargain for it with almost seven years of our arguably most precious resource: attention? The next question that arises is it at least time well spent? The first five minutes of it, perhaps, but these platforms are not in the business for a meager five minutes — they are relentlessly designed to be used for much longer. Let's be clear of one thing; these 'populair' experiences are not populair for their inherit meaning or hedonic effects. They make users consistently feel overwhelmed, anxious, pressured, or simple worse about ourselves — reliably increasing with added exposure.

The psychological effects of social media

World's 'most popular' platform.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? Well….because Facebook and other smaller for-profit companies figured out they can get away with employing uncomprehensible persuasive technology to manipulate billions of people to give excessively into their most basic human tendencies: to be hyper-social creatures. They deliberately set out to change the social status quo for billions of people such that they can sell our eyeballs to the higher bidder and, subsequently, market material stuff that leaves us unfulfilled. In the end, this whole ordeal will cost people seven-plus years of their life; they will feel no more connected to loved ones than previous generations; often actually more lonely and worse, but rest assured Facebook captures its hard-earned 83 billion dollars a year for its 'services'.

We wrongheadedly think these platforms have anything to do with being 'social' and don't see them as what they actually are: the world's biggest advertisement companies who increasing also determine what is important in the world.

People often assert that the planetary meltdown caused by climate change is the global challenge of the 21st Century. I agree, but I hope to have successfully argued that the grip advertisement companies have on human consciousness is perhaps a prerequisite challenge. A toxic conundrum immobilises societies around the world as they increasingly become unable to develop a conducive sense of self, differentiate fact from fiction, become polarised and politicised, and frankly spiritually devastated. In order to solve climate change, or for that fact any meaningful challenge, we need instruments to again deliberate, communicate, and collaborate.

We need not yet another social network; we need the world's first social framework.

As of this writing, Telos is working on its own mobile application. Its first version is a humble iOS app that demonstrates the significance of time well spent through a special exercise called The Gratitude Night devised by positive psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman. Telos could become a hyper-growth company through network effects, which will allow it to rapidly advance its technology so to offer users unique intra- and interpersonal essentials to flourish as individuals. Subsequently, we aim to surpass the individual, onto teams and beyond so to create something worthy of calling 'world's first social framework.'

Sources
  1. 1. Ali, M. A. (2020, 23 April). The Stacks 2.0 Testnet: Testbed for a user-owned internet. Stacks. https://blog.blockstack.org/stacks-2-testnet/
  2. 2. Zuboff, S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (Main ed.). Audio Books. P.165 “ Verizon [...] publicly introduced its shift towards surveillance revenues in the spring of 2014, when an article in Advertising Age announced the company’s move into mobile advertising.”
  3. 3.  Haidt, J. H. (2021). The Social Dilemma. Center of Humane Technology.
  4. 4.  Haidt, J. H. (2019). The Coddling of the American Mind. Penguin Random House. P. 153 “When kids use screens for two hours of their leisure time per day or less, there is no elevated risk of depression but above two hours per day the risk grows larger with each additional hour of screen time.”
  5. The Commonsense Census. (2019). The Commonsense Census: Media use by Tweens and Teens. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads/research/census_researchreport.pdf
  6. 5. Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Learned Optimism. Van Haren Publishing. P.
  7. 6. Brashears, M. E. (2011). Small networks and high isolation? A reexamination of American discussion networks. Social Networks, 33(4), 331–341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2011.10.003
  8. 7. Pine, B. J., II, & Gilmore, J. H. (2019). The Experience Economy, With a New Preface by the Authors. Reed Business Education.
  9. Regrets from The Guardian. Top five regrets of the dying by Susie Steiner