SAY NO TO DRUGS is a graphic design project criticizing the invisible impact social media networks have on their users' physical and mental health and what it would be like if they had use warnings?
“There are only two industries that call their customers 'users': illicit drugs and software.”
Edward Tufte, The Social Dilema
This quote alludes to the addictive characteristics that social media have in their design and functionality, as described by Edward Tuffle, ethical designer and one of the co-founders of Center for Humane Technology. If we consider the Brazilian context, where citizens spends on average 10 hours daily connected to the internet, as is stated in the annual study Digital Report 2021, 3 hours and 42 minutes are reserved for social media. The excessive use, however, can generate collateral damage to the users’ physical and mental health.
By denoting social media as harmful to one’s health, and in consideration of Brazilian Law 9294, which regulates and restricts advertising of tobacco and other harmful products, in particular Article 3, which requires clear warning clauses on packaging about side effects, this graphic project was born.
The project “Say no to drugs” is an exercise in imagination in a scenario where social networks are compelled to publicize the damage to their user’s health. Inspired by Brazilian cigarette warning ads, 5 digital collages were created, based on a compilation of negative effects listed by the Center for Humane Technology in its Ledger of Harms. The objective of this project is to give visibility to these problems and criticize not only the use itself, but the worrying lack of transparency in Big Tech. There is a need to design more ethical platforms that are more concerned with the users’ than the profit of the most valuable currency in the digital world: attention.
YOU FORGET. This product causes LOSS OS ATTENTION AND MEMORY.
“The mere presence of your smartphone, even when it is turned off and face down, drains your attention. An experimental study of several hundred adults showed that both working memory and the ability to solve new problems were drastically reduced when their phones were turned off but present on their desks, as opposed to being in another room. Ironically, participants who said they were highly dependent on their phones showed the greatest increase in memory and fluid intelligence scores when their phones were moved to the other room. ”
Ward, A. F., Duke, K., Gneezy, A., & Bos, M. W., 2017.
Journal of the Association for Consumer Research
YOU DESENSITIZE. This product causes POLARIZATION, APATHY AND ENHANCES HATE SPEECH
“An Oxford research study of 22 million tweets showed that Twitter users had shared more “misinformation, polarizing, and conspiratorial content” than had shared actual news stories”
Howard, P., & al, e., 2017. Data Memo
YOU SUFFER. This product causes DEPRESSION AND AXIETY.
“A longitudinal study of several thousand adolescents indicated that their level of social media usage was a significant predictor of their depression levels over the course of 4 years. For every increased hour spent using social media, teens show a 2% increase in depressive symptoms.”
YOU GET ADDICTED. This product causes CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR AND CREATES DEPENDANCY.
“The greater your level of Facebook addiction, the lower your brain volume. MRI brain scans of Facebook users demonstrated a significant reduction in gray matter in the amygdala correlated with their level of addiction to Facebook. This pruning away of brain matter is similar to the type of cell death seen in cocaine addicts.”
He, Q, Turel, O., & Bechara, A., 2017. Nature: Science Reports
YOU DIE. This product causes SUICIDE AND HOMICIDE.
“66% is the increase in the risk of suicide-related outcomes among teen girls who spend more than 5 hours a day (vs. 1 hour a day) on social media.”
Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N., 2018. Clinical Psychological Science
This project was exposed in the Isolation Museum.