The Rise of the Wellness App

Our dependence on technology has centered wealth in America, which makes San Francisco more home to billionaires per billion than any other city. Almost all of them are white, ciegender men. Long-standing wage inequalities in Silicon Valley continue to grow, devaluing domestic and regional labor, reproducing race and class hierarchies and increasing human costs to increase our ease of doing groceries or takeout Is increasing. This dystopian side is hidden from view, which helps us to ignore it and stay attached to it.

Before the epidemic, grocery-distribution app Instacart allegedly shed millions of dollars in blood and struggled to make a profit. In March, the company hired 300,000 workers to meet demand at the height of the epidemic. As independent contractors, they were not eligible for health care benefits (although the company promised 14 paid days if they received a Kovid-19 diagnosis or needed quarantine). Instacart is now valued at over $ 17 billion; Many of its activists say they are barely earning minimum wages. The epidemic may have exposed class disparities, but technology that has put one group of people at risk for their health, while others who sit comfortably at home, may reinforce those disparities.

Most tech companies have a well-polished party line on how their culture supports their most vulnerable workers. Alice Vichaita, head of global profit at Pintrest, told me that the company seeks to create an “inspired culture” for its employees with a focus on emotional well-being, which she sees as “a prerequisite for living an inspiring life” Huh.” During the pandemic, mood-board search engines offered creative mask-making tutorials and made statements in support of the Black Lives Latter movement.

Meanwhile, upheaval was taking place: In June, Ifoma Ozoma and Erica Shimizu Banks, two former black employees, aired reports of racist and sexist treatment and pay disparities and, in August, the company’s former chief Operations Officer François Brotter. Sued Pintrest for gender discrimination. The gap between the company’s external offerings and internal functioning is revealing a dichotomy that exists in the tech industry – a desire to demonstrate solidarity rather than the enforced policies that characterize it. Pintrest did not accept any liability in the case of Barrer (who is white), but paid a settlement of $ 5 million. Ozoma and Banks reportedly gave up half of their annual salary. There is no amount of free medical or other corporate welfare allowances that can overcome the toxicity of racism and sexism in the workplace.

In late January, I went – meaning I logged into Zoom at the scheduled time – to discuss a religion called “How Technology Shapes Us”. I was trying to work on the stress of relying on mediocrity through an Internet that is oriented towards disrupting it. The day opened for a while, maybe 10 minutes. Although I sat in meditation for a long time, my brain itched and electric slide and dissolve whatever and nothing I wanted. It was impossible for me to sit in front of the void of the screen used for work and entertainment, to become a pillar of peace, whose invisible and silent bridge was irresistible.

“We already walk with the seeds of dissatisfaction and the feeling that something better can happen,” Randhima Fernando, a teacher at the Dharma Dialogue, told me later. “And the way we should navigate that feeling is by moving or meditating, but instead we reach for the super computers in our pocket.” The first great truth of Buddhism is that there are unavoidable sufferings in life. The second is that it is largely due to cravings and desire for material objects, a need that can never be satisfied. Most technology is designed to convince users that this information can alleviate that suffering through on-demand access to other people, food, and entertainment. But more often than not, it accelerates it.

Social media, for example, monetizes the urgency of being desired, and has economic incentives to keep us busy, unhappy, searching, assuring that there is something else to consume, something better to do, learn or buy . Buddhism teaches that there is no quick fix, and that advertisements like cool are better at advertising comforting services – and profits from them – than they are actually providing them in a meaningful way. “Mindfulness is less about reducing stress and more about reducing dissatisfaction through direct investigation of our experience,” Fernando told me. “But marketing stress reduction is more successful, and certainly more likely to win downloads or a corporate account.”

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