The Faustian Bargain: How Technology Stole Our Dreams and Desires

“Never have freedom and thriving been more available, and yet never have they been more inaccessible.” -Benjamin P. Hardy

In the last decade, the population has begun entering into a Faustian bargain; that is we are increasingly trading our dreams and desires for the numbing and lulling of a life filled by distraction and entertainment.

We were sold on instant messaging, Facebook likes, and the idea of having the whole of the internet in our pockets at the expense of our time, ambitions, and focus.

Many people have now chosen to spend their time and attention on things that don’t matter, and only waste their potential, rather than using it on things that could give their lives purpose and meaning.

As a result, the feeling of hopelessness has become a prominent part of today’s society as people are increasingly becoming disconnected from themselves, and one another.

As Yuval Noah Harari once said,

“Don’t trust technology too much. If you aren’t careful, it will start dictating your aims and enslaving you to its agenda.”

For many, that process has already begun, however, it’s never too late to reclaim your desires and live the life you deserve.

Here’s how to stop technology from stealing your life.

Know What You Want in Life Before Technology Shapes Your Aims

“Technology isn’t bad. If you know what you want in life, technology can help you get it. But if you don’t know what you in life, it will be too easy for technology to shape your aims for you and take control of your life.” -Yuval Noah Harari

Admittedly, the epidemic of technology stealing peoples dreams and desires is not just something I write about, but something I’ve personally experienced.

For years, I was addicted to numbing out through video games and overindulging in online media. I was stuck in a subconscious cycle of consumption and distraction, which was leading to a life of destruction and confusion.

I had no goals or ambitions outside of the digital world, I was increasingly disconnecting myself from the physical world, and was slowly building up a rage of anger and discontent for my life.

It wasn’t until I really question who I was, that I realized this wasn’t the path for me.

However, many people right now are still walking down the same path. Not necessarily because they want to be there, or that they like where they’re heading, but simply that technology has misconstrued their compass.

Getting off this track starts by understanding who you truly are and discovering what you really want out of life. I’ve always recommended two simple practices for this:

  1. Reading a lot of books
  2. Journaling

As far as reading a lot of books goes, you need to go to a library or bookstore and find the section that you wouldn’t mind reading every single book in. Read a dozen of them, and I’m sure you’ll find what I’ve found; that often the books you’d most happily read are the clearest indicators of what you most deeply value in life.

Secondly, journaling is what I believe to be one of the most fundamental keystone habits of personal development. You really don’t know anything until you’ve put it in writing. Your mind is a busy place, when you put your thoughts to the paper they become clear and precise. This is how you get out of the trees of your life and see the forest.

Make Your Environment Reflective of the Person You Want to Become

“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.” -Marshall Goldsmith

Really, it doesn’t how much you know yourself and what you want from life, if you’re in a toxic environment you won’t thrive.

While most self-help advice focuses on the individual, if you really want to change your behavior, you need to change your environment.

As Benjamin P. Hardy wrote in his book, Willpower Doesn’t Work,

“We adapt and evolve based on the environments we select. You are who you are because of your environment. Want to change? Then change your environment.”

If you’re really committed to what you want in life, then you need to reshape your environment to support that commitment. You absolutely will need to get rid of things you once loved, but now contradict with your desires in order to become the person you should be.

Personally, I’ve had to block all video games from my computer and install multiple mobile apps and browser extensions to limit my options around the use of technology.

It can already be hard enough to shape the life you really want. Don’t make it any harder by living in an environment that doesn’t support your ideal.

In Conclusion

Most modern-day environments are laden with triggers that prompt unconscious dopamine seeking. Indeed, never has environmental design and knowing yourself been more crucial.

You don’t want to be a slave to technology. Instead, allow it to serve you.

Know what you want in life and remove anything from your environment that doesn’t belong in the vision you see for yourself.