Extending the analogy with food — healthy vs. junk- there are plenty of studies that show that it isn’t about “choice”, which is this weirdly American capitalist way of thinking about everything.

Just offering “healthy options” in school cafeterias doesn’t do anything, kids still choose junk food and soda, and even when they choose a bag of carrots or an apple most goes uneaten (we sorted through school cafeteria garbage, an instructive exercise). No amount of talking at them or healthy eating pamphlets will change this, it isn’t as if they don’t know. Why? Because they are addicted to junk!

Furthermore, junk food makes you feel bad, immediately after the eating part, but people don’t recognize the symptoms because they are accustomed to this vague sense of unease in their stomachs.

So what does work? What works for adults? A cleanse! What has been shown to work is to eliminate choice: eliminate all the junk food options and soda vending machines until kids learn to eat and drink well and their bodies learn to enjoy eating broccoli. This can take up to a few weeks.

Then, when you do reintroduce junk food or soda, kids continue to choose the healthy options, at least for a while. When they do choose to eat junk or drink a soda, ask about how they feel, they are now aware of the ick feelings in their stomach.

As far as social media goes, individuals have experimented with deleting social apps for some time to purge their system. I at least then find myself with a sense of unease when I do open one, say FB, to respond to an invite etc. One or two scrolls, my eyes glaze over and I’m done.

So how do you propose we apply this to tech? I don’t even know how to scale this to school food, given the corruption involved in eliminating water fountains, the contracts with junk food vendors, the money the PTA raises by selling sodas and from junk food machines, and the love affair that all Americans have with “choice”.

I stop to miau to cats.

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