Mar 13, 2018
Andrew talks about his struggle with technology starting when he was 12. He grew up in the suburbs and had a sibling rivalry. Technology created a happy space where he could go to get away from these things.
Technology helped Andrew connect with others, but the problem was that he was always on. At the time he thought it was great.
He accidentally got disconnected from technology for a week and experienced presence and being aware of all the things that were going on when not connected to technology. He realized he had an issue and started to develop his own methods for staying mindful when using technology.
He developed a way of taking notes offline when he wasn't connected to the phone using low-technology but then realized that a hardware device would be way better.
This lead him to create Siempo which is a layer on top of a smartphone operating system that turns your phone experience into a more intentional but less distracting interface.
Stewart explains the evolution of how technology is evolving quickly and human beings are adapting to it slowly. Siempo and Andrew are attempting to now harness technology to mediate the harmful effects that technology created.
Mindfulness leads to the meta skill of where to place attention and how to prevent distraction from becoming chronic. It can enhance the tech that is being built
We talk about how technology plays itself out differently in diverse cultures. In Latin America, it seems that there is a strong family-oriented culture. They end up using a lot of technology and are some of the heaviest users of social media. Yet they use it differently.
We discuss how its easier to take the social media off the phone, but when using the computer it's hard to regulate because of the way this technology is presented to users.
Andrew mentions that Facebook seems to have engineered a system to get people addicted to new information in a very stick way. Mindfulness helps us to step in and cut this process out before it begins.
He mentions that the social conditioning that humans have always undergone is now mediated by technology and we are having hyper-targeted versions of it on Facebook. Its a much more pervasive form of societal conditioning.
Stewart asks Andrew about how maybe what we need is a lot more educational opportunities to teach people how to use technology mindfully. Andrew says that it is probably a mix. He mentions a program in Vermont that has its students sign a pledge to not drink or do drugs. In exchange, they get access to a lot of yoga and mindfulness programs as well as a special dorm.
Andrew notices a trend that Wisdom 2.0 conference is full of older people but hasn't found many young people getting into mindfulness solutions. He says that the banks, tech, and consulting are still taking most young people straight out of college because of high salaries.
Stewart brings up the idea that many older people have a difficulty adapting to a new world with rapidly evolving technology. This is a difficult problem for the future. Stewart says that maybe its easier to get younger people to adapt faster than older people. Andrew says its still important to get older people as well.
Andrew mentions some figures about how children who grow up in single-parent homes are much more likely to spend most of their waking life on their phone.
Stewart asks Andrew about some of the practices he uses to get himself back to the present moment. He says that he has triggers that remind him. He has a google chrome app that reminds him to breathe every fifteen minutes. He has a fake watch that says "Now" on it. He makes sure that he takes time for rest. He downloads meditations that he can use offline.
Andrew talks about how his meditation practice has evolved. He mentions his first retreat where he was taught that meditation is about focusing the mind on an object, which can be anything (the breathe, the body, etc).