Interview with Scotty Lefkowitz, App Developer of Ludite App discussing Digital Addiction, Behavioural Addiction and more.
What does the concept of "unplug" mean to you?
Unplugging means the creation of a healthy relationship with technology by taking occasional breaks. Without these breaks, I feel like my days are consistently a lot worse.
Tell us about LUDITE App - how did you come about creating it and why?
I am someone who struggled HEAVILY with bad tech habits. However, over a winter break from college, my friend challenged me to go a whole week without screens. This experience was incredible because all of the deleterious consequences of my bad habits were revealed. I couldn’t go back to my existing habits, so my life was altered drastically. I got rid of my phone and left my computer at home when I went back to school. Although there were some minor inconveniences, the freedom from my bad habits was invaluable. Because this experience was so transformative, I built an app to help others experience this freedom!
Due to the recent climate, many have had to resort to Technology more so than we used to on our day-to-day, how do you think your LUDITE app can help users disconnect?
I think this highlights the most difficult part of establishing a balance with technology. Our lives revolve around it, our jobs, education, entertainment, and social lives. With all of these powerful forces pulling us towards screens, it's nearly impossible to create a healthy relationship with our technology.
Ludite can help establish this balance because it can be that one force pulling you towards disconnecting occasionally. Many existing users have found this small reminder to disconnect to be a powerful force for creating better habits.
What is your opinion on the rise of “The Digital Detox” and why is it important ?
I think digital detoxes are great! As I mentioned, a digital detox of my own opened my eyes to my own bad habits and changed my life. I think stepping back from technology occasionally is so important because it allows us to slow down and reconnect with activities we find valuable.
How has your life transformed after handling your technology addiction (e.g. Social Media) and would you say there are types of technology (e.g. AI, AR) which are good and bad for You?
When I found control over my habit, I felt like a different person. I had more energy, picked up new passions (like piano and coding), and even made more friends.
I think technology is inherently a great force in society. Our quality of lives are unimaginably high because of technological progress relative to past generations. The problem we are trying to solve is a human problem, not a technology problem. Our interaction with really powerful tools, such as snapchat or instagram, can result in overuse and behavioural addiction. As someone who experienced these powerful forces and all the negative that comes for, I am confident that creating a healthier relationship with technology will bring about a plethora of good.
In your manifesto, Ludite claims that "Through inversion, Ludite nudges you away from your phone by providing the same incentives that Facebook uses to keep you on your phone." in which ways will Ludite achieve this and how, through the process of inversion, will we find a healthier relationship to our social media?
Ostensibly, Ludite is no different from Instagram. It is a photo sharing application where people can post what they have been doing. The key difference is that in order to post on Ludite, a user has to start a “moment” and put their phone down.
In a moment, a user is accumulating points which they can use to compete with their friends. So, when a user returns from their moment, they can both share what they did and receive a social reward by gaining points. All of this is done with the intent of providing the same powerful social incentives that Facebook uses to keep you on their platforms. Instead, we want you to use these rewards as a way to distance yourself from ours and theirs while creating a healthier relationship with technology.
Do you believe that paradoxically technology can be an aid in helping us unplug from technology?
At GLITCH, our next step will be to integrate technology into print - to bring about a new hybrid model for print media. This model will integrate technology similar to "QR" codes bringing AR technology to print allowing users to disconnect from outside triggers/distractions/the media without compromising their experience. Thus allowing them to immerse into our magazine - with new creative talent and inspiring interviews through a new dimension. Thus we are using technology to make it easier to disconnect - to unplug.
Definitely! As technology progresses, brilliant people like yourself will find ways to help people engage in more creative ways that have a positive impact on our lives. I love what you are up to at GLITCH.
Very few people are working on missions like ours because, frankly, there isn’t much money to be made here. We are in the attention economy and a product that moves people away from screens is not rewarded. Hopefully, we can bring about positive change and help people establish healthier relationships with their technology.
App Developer of Ludite App
Student at University of Chicago