A Question and Answer Session with Daniel Sieberg, author of "The Digital Diet: The 4-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and
Posted May 13 2011 8:33am
Have you ever felt that something hasn’t really happened until you post it on Facebook or Twitter? Does a flashing red light on your BlackBerry make your heart flutter? Do you know you shouldn’t be texting and driving -- but still do it? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re not alone; you’re among the millions of people who can relate to being overwhelmed by technology. Fear not -- from leading technology reporter Daniel Sieberg comes the first self-help book to address America’s newest addiction: The Digital Diet: The 4-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life (Three Rivers Press; On Sale: May 3, 2011; Trade Paperback Original; $13.00), a four-step, dietary-style approach to help you slim down on everything from gadgets to social networks to video games.
The Digital Diet is a 28-day plan that’s meant to reawaken our awareness of technology in our lives, provide tools and gadgets to improve life, and instill the right motivational/practical formula for managing it in the future. It can be tailored based on age, profession, hobbies, and a person’s particular electronic poison and includes a self-assessment, a detox phase, and a week-by-week guide to building time for technology back into your routine.
Why did you decide to write this book? It started as part of a personal journey to streamline my own technology intake. During a series of events in late 2009, I realized that despite my myriad gadgets and devices and websites, I had actually lost touch with my family and friends. My over-indulgence in technology was largely to blame, and I needed a plan going forward. I still love technology, but now I make it work for me rather than the other way around.
How is your book different from others about “de-teching”? In my opinion, too many books about “de-teching” or “offlining” start and stop with the idea of abandoning technology -- forever, for a short time. My book is about instilling a greater cultural awareness (both at home and in the workplace) while encouraging people to use technology to their advantage. It’s about having a long-term strategy that works for all aspects of life. There are anecdotes and tips and ways to maximize your time spent in the digital world, and clear guidelines on how to trim the stuff that isn’t enhancing your relations and work. It’s about consciousness and control, which I think we’ve lost over time as technology has infiltrated so many aspects of our lives.
Can you explain the concept of “Facebook envy” and how it can have a negative impact on your mood? Social networks make it easy to be a voyeur and peek over our digital fences. If we indulge in that behavior too much, it can result in feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and frustration. Most people portray an idyllic life on social networks and don’t reveal the very real struggles they may be going through. Therefore, the way we “see” our friends and family can be distorted and inaccurate. My hope is that this book gives people perspective on their real life versus their online avatar or alter ego. Real life is real; social networks are not. End of story.
What is the link between technology and childhood obesity? There have been countless studies linking the over-use of technology with childhood obesity, whether it’s spending too much time playing video games or avoiding physical activities or simply exercising the fingers and thumbs and nothing else. Parents constantly struggle with monitoring their child’s use of technology, and the book is meant as an educational resource that inspires them to stay involved. It’s also about suggesting plenty of technologies that assist children with losing weight or staying in shape. There are real ways to incorporate gadgets and software and do it the right way.
Some may initially think this is a book about the evils of technology. Can you explain why it’s not? It’s absolutely not a book about the evils of technology or how everyone should be anti-technology, just like a diet book isn’t anti-food but rather about consuming meals that make you healthy and energetic. In the same vein, my book encourages people to embrace technology, but for the right reasons and for the right occasion. It’s all about seeking balance. Technology that liberates, not inundates.
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About the author
Daniel Sieberg is an Emmy-nominated reporter who hosts Tech This Out! for ABC News NOW. He has also covered science, environment, space and technology stories for CBS News, CNN, PBS, NPR, BBC News, Planet Green, MSNBC, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Oprah.com, Details, Time, The Vancouver Sun, CTV News, CleanSkies.TV, Fuse.TV, The Nate Berkus Show and The Dr. Oz Show.