Earlier this year several of Apple’s investors tried to pressure the company into working to combat iPhone addiction. This proposal makes sense, right? After all, Apple has created an addicting product so shouldn’t it take responsibility for its creation? No on both accounts. Why? Because Apple isn’t at fault, its users who have become addicted to its devices are:
I know intimately that if we want to achieve tech-life balance, people must start taking responsibility for their choices. No one is forcing consumers to buy an iPhone, use Facebook, stare at Twitch, masturbate to porn or any of the other millions of things you can do with technology. Every single one of those actions is a choice we make, and if there is one lesson from addiction treatment that everyone should hear it is that it is nearly impossible to help someone who doesn’t want help.
Apple isn’t forcing you to buy or use an iPhone. In fact, unlike government, no technology company is forcing you to use its product. Just like alcohol, you have a choice whether or not you use an iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other technology products. If you’re an alcoholic, then you need to take responsibility for your actions. Likewise, if you’re addicted to a technology product, then you have to take responsibility for your actions.
Addiction isn’t a legal or technological problem. An addict will find ways to work around any external controls that are placed on them. Heroine addicts manage to get their fix even though their drug of choice is illegal. iPhone addicts will turn off or bypass any technological controls that Apple puts into place. Breaking an addiction requires an addict to first admit that they have a problem and then to personally take actions to break their addiction. The choice to overcome an addiction needs to be made by an addict, not by an outside party.