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Communications of the ACM


When Technology Goes Awry

person's wrist handcuffed to mobile phone, illustration

Credit: Sararwut Jaimassiri

I begin my book, Digital Minimalism,2 by quoting an essay by the journalist Andrew Sullivan. "An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts," he wrote. "It broke me. It might break you, too."5

When I talk to people about their relationship with their digital devices, many report experiences that echo Sullivan. Many people look at screens constantly; not just for work, but while at home, with their children, while in bed, or even in their bathrooms. Some users jump from Hacker News, to email, then over to Twitter to share a take no one requested, then back to email. At best, it is needlessly distracting; at worse, it might break some of you, too.


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