How hard is it not to use your car?

As we’re getting ready to release Waverly I’m going through our friends and supporters to assemble a small and diversified panel of pioneer users. One of my aspiring pioneer turned down the offer saying “I’m trying really hard not to be on my phone outside of work”.

She’s not alone. A 2018 Pew Research showed that 52% of U.S. teens reported taking steps to cut back on their mobile phone.

I started thinking about other things that were really hard to stay away from. For me it’s snack food. For others it might be cigarettes, or wine… They all have something in common: they are not a useful part of our daily lives. I don’t need snack food to go about my day. I may choose to have it, but if I cut it down entirely it will not hinder my ability to be a good dad, a good husband, or a good CEO.

This is not true of my smartphone. If you take it away from me I will first scream and shout — the addiction talking. After a while, though, the symptoms will recede. I might be a happier person at that point, but I’ll definitely not be as good a CEO. I’ll miss emails, there will be many inspiring ideas I wont stumble on, I’ll miss important updates from people who are influential to the future of the business… I actually need my smartphone to be effective at my job.

The smartphone is unique amongst our addictions in that we can’t give it up entirely. At best, like my aspiring pioneer, we can give it up outside of work. (I am far from having reached that point, though.)

None of our tools are like that. You don’t have to “try really hard not to use your car outside of work”. You use it when you need it and there’s zero risk to fall down the dark abyss of addiction.

But with our phone it’s different. We can’t live with it and we can’t live without it. We have to get the drug out of our system but we also have to get a hit every day. This makes for a very unhealthy relationship…

That’s the symptom of a deep problem with tech: it’s not aligned with our real human goals. This is the problem I’m out to solve.

That’s why our tagline is technology for your better self. It was chosen very deliberately. We might be starting with a discovery engine, but we aspire to use the approach we develop there to fix every aspect of our relationship with tech.

If we succeed — WHEN we succeed, my investors would like me to write 😉 — then I hope this aspiring pioneer’s answer will change entirely: “Yes! I really want to test Waverly, as I’m trying hard to get rid of my smartphone addiction!”

In the meantime, you have all my support, aspiring pioneer. Hang in there, we’ll be back soon.