230. Chris Dancy: Use Tech to Be More Human

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Chris Dancy's life used to be a lot different. Back in 2008, he weighed more than 300 pounds, smoked two packs and drank 36 cans of Diet Coke a day. But he had one disruptive skill in his back pocket.

As a database engineer, he's obsessive about tracking information. And when he put the lens on himself, it changed everything. By tracking every aspect of his life (food, feelings, TV, social media posts, etc.) he collected “big data” on himself, the way a tech company would. Using a variety of sensors, apps, and home-brewed systems, Dancy harnessed his habits and completely disrupted his life.

Today, he's an author and speaker who warns against the dangerous discourse that technology is “breaking” people. Instead, he says “don't unplug,” and explains how the systems that suck our attention and data can be reverse-engineered to make our lives better, and ultimately make us more human. “Today's technology is engineered around reactions, not feelings,” he says, and shows us that it's within our power to change that.

In this extraordinary and emotional conversation, Dancy discusses how our culture weaponizes time, looking back at your own emotional data, his mother's gift that changed everything, and training yourself to schedule things like “kindness” and saying “I love you.” In his own words, “we need to stop valuing our schedule and schedule our values.”

Continued below…

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Key takeaways from this episode:

1. Screens aren't evil. There is nothing wrong with technology. It’s the way it is engineered. It sets us up not to feel but to react. If we harness tech properly, it can make us even more human.

2. “We need to stop valuing our schedule and schedule our values.” How are we finding ways to measure what we care about? Are the reminders on our phone not to go somewhere, but to tell someone that we love them, for example?

3. We don’t download apps, we download habits. Framing tech this way is powerful.

4. A procrastination lifehack: Put on music you’ve never heard. And since I’ve been procrastinating doing the final edits on my book, I’m about to listen to some new music!

Ways to connect with Chris Dancy

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