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Instead of optimizing work, technology has created a nonstop barrage of notifications and interactions.

How Work Became an Inescapable HellholeThis story is adapted from Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, by Anne Helen Petersen. “Instead of optimizing work, technology has created a nonstop barrage of notifications and interactions. Six months into a pandemic, it’s worse than ever. I’m equally ashamed and exhausted writing that description of a pretty standard day in my digital life—and it doesn’t even include all of the additional times I looked at my phone, or checked social media, or went back and forth between a draft and the internet, as I did twice just while writing this sentence. In the United States, one 2013 study found that millennials check their phone 150 times a day; a different 2016 study claimed we log an average of six hours and 19 minutes of scrolling and texting and stressing out over emails per week. No one I know likes their phone. Most people I know even realize that whatever benefits the phone allows—Google Maps, Emergency Calling—are far outweighed by the distraction that accompanies it. We know this….Part of the problem is that these digital technologies, from cell phones to Apple Watches, from Instagram to Slack, encourage our worst habits. They stymie our best-laid plans for self-preservation. They ransack our free time. They make it increasingly impossible to do the things that actually ground us. They turn a run in the woods into an opportunity for self-optimization. They are the neediest and most selfish entity in every interaction I have with others. They compel us to frame experiences, as we are experiencing them, with future captions, and to conceive of travel as worthwhile only when documented for public consumption. They steal joy and solitude and leave only exhaustion and regret. I hate them and resent them and find it increasingly difficult to live without them…”

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