How Can Your Apps and Devices Better Support Your Wellbeing?

How Can Your Apps and Devices Better Support Your Wellbeing?

In last week’s Curiosity Experiment, I alluded to the fact that sometimes, disconnecting from the internet seems like the best way to avoid outrage fatigue. And indeed, most discussions about happiness, wellbeing and mindfulness encourage us to focus on our breath, our bodies, and our thoughts. It’s rare that you’ll come across someone who encourages you to stay connected and use technology as part of your mindfulness practice.

Here’s a notable, wonderful exception: Rohan Gunatillake’s talk, “Redesigning, not Retreating,” which he gave at the Wisdom 2.0 Europe conference this week. He explores some exciting questions, such as whether designing for wellbeing might take hold of the popular imagination the way the organic food or fair trade movements have; the limitations of digital detoxes; and what metrics we might introduce to measure success. (Rohan suggests “how our awareness, calm and kindness has been supported, not just how much advertising revenue we’ve brought in.”)

My favourite bit is these two slides, where Rohan imagines how we might assess various apps’ and websites’ impacts on our minds:

An imaginary wellbeing assessment for a website

Image copyright Rohan Gunatillake. Used with permission.

An imaginary nutrition info label for a mobile app

Image copyright Rohan Gunatillake. Used with permission.

I love this idea – and it’s got me thinking about how I might assess the impact of the various tech tools I use regularly. So here’s your curiosity experiment for this week:

  • What digital tools enhance your awareness, calm and kindness?
  • How would you assess those tools’ “nutritional value”? Are there other qualities you look for?
  • Thinking about those that don’t enhance those qualities, how might you use them differently in order to improve your “scores”?
  • Are there any digital tools that feel irredeemably unhealthy for you? If so, what options do you have to cut them from your diet?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment here – my new commenting system works by clicking on the little speech bubble that appears when you hover over a paragraph of text – or on my Facebook page.