Brain Hacking and the Search for Peace

Brain Hacking and the Search for Peace

(God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Cor. 1:4 from The Message translation

Last night on 60 Minutes, Tristan Harris, a former Silicon Valley technology designer, was interviewed about cell phone use. Harris has been speaking out about an issue called brain hacking. Brain hacking is how technology companies are being intentional in designing their devices, like cellphones, to be addictive. The addictive nature of these products are having dramatic and negative effects on the human body and psyche.

According to Harris, people check their cell phones an average of 150 times a day. This means, a person who slept 8 hours a day, would be checking their phone 7.5 times an hour. If each phone check lasted 4 minutes, completely reasonable, they would be spending 30 minutes every waking hour on their cellphone. Then, 60 Minutes demonstrated how each time a cellphone rang it increased a person’s heart rate. At issue for Tristan Harris, is how much your phone is producing anxiety.

Harris did more than just complain about the problem. He decided to offer a solution by starting a non-profit company called, Time Well Spent. This company seeks to help people develop healthy and ethical technology practices. Another modern mind, Tim Ferris, has been doing the same type of thing. Ferris, in promoting personal productivity, suggests waiting until 10 am to check emails. He also recommends this be the only time you respond to emails during the day. Next, he suggests being intentional about not touching your phone for one hour each day. These tools, Ferris shows, will help your productivity.

So often we think of the difficulties in our life as being something forced upon us from the outside, or as a result of bad choices. Technology reveals how hard times can come from activities we enjoy. When even fun activities can produce stress and anxiety, how can our souls ever find rest?

Paul reminds us God comforts us in our distress and “before you know it,” brings us to someone who needs comfort. God does this so we can provide the same comfort we have received. What burdens are you carrying this day and how can God bring comfort to them? Then, look around you, what burdens are your neighbor carrying? Can you be a source of comfort to them? Providing comfort, like Tristan Harris is doing, does more than help your neighbor. It helps you discover peace as well.

Click to read: 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7 (The Message translation)

Click to read: The Atlantic article on Tristan Harris

Reflection Questions:

  • How often do you find yourself checking your cellphone? Consider measuring your use.
  • What is your pattern for responding to emails, texts, and Facebook posts?
  • How do these activities influence your personal relationships?
  • When was a time you received comfort from someone who was also going through difficulty?
  • What impact did it have on your condition?


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