China! Maybe they have sorted Social Media addiction?

“Bacon and Eggs” Chinese business concept by Michael de Groot, drawing by Josh Filhol

I have no idea where China is with Social Media/Big Tech, but I gained a bit of an insight by listening to an episode titled “A fresh take on Tech in China” on the podcast ‘Your Undivided Attention’, which features Tristan Harris, who Co-founded Humane Tech and starred in The Social Dilemma. Do check out these two websites.

I first came across Tristan via an awesome Ted Talk, “How a handful of Tech companies control billions of minds every day”.

This is their Podcast description:

“In this podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin confront catastrophic risk with existential hope. How is technology both a symptom and a driver of broader social, political, and economic forces? How do we reimagine humane technology that supports our shared well-being, sense-making, and ability to tackle complex global challenges? And what can we do together to catalyse a more humane future?

Tristan and Aza will treat your attention with care as they explore these questions with academics, activists, cultural & faith-based leaders, and experts on everything from sense-making in a post-truth world to the psychology of the climate crisis.”

I highly recommend this podcast, if you’re anything like me and super concerned about the route the likes of Facebook (now Meta) and the other 4 Big Tech companies are taking and wish to learn more about the real facts and what can be done to curtail some of the really bad and suspicious practices going on right now, this is the podcast for you.

All together they are also known as “GAMAM”, Google, Amazon, Meta, Apple and Microsoft. These 5 super Tech companies control all of our worlds unless you live in the jungle somewhere, extracted from the grid and outside the Matrix.

Incidentally the only reason these companies are getting away with murder, both metaphorically and literally speaking is that we as consumers use their products multiple times per day, each and every day and therefore we let them. If we stopped using their products, the companies would largely cease to exist. Okay their trillions would keep them going for a while, but eventually the advertisers would leave if no users were using the platform. Of course that’s never going to happen, right?

Back to the real reason for me writing this, China!

In this particular podcast episode several things were confirmed to be true and made my ears prick up!

  1. Super Apps. These monolithic apps are basically operating systems in their own right and you can do everything inside of these without having to own, pay-for and download loads of apps, like most of us do in the West, although I’m sure that will change too.
  2. WeChat are one of those monolithic apps. It has ‘Chat’ in the title but it’s not just a messaging app. Their meteoric rise was on the back of the fact that PC’s never really took off in China and neither did email. Now there’s an interesting concept, no email, no spam, oh what a world that would be. By the way LinkedIn as the ability to add your WeChat handle to your profile, one of the very few, maybe even the only one who allows it?
  3. Mobile first is the order of the day. Text messaging in the past in China was expensive, no inclusive plans, also it was spammy, so when WeChat came out with free messaging on mobile, there was no need for email, plus that messaging has to be permission based, so no spam either! Sounds like heaven actually.
  4. The Chinese government is cracking down on Big Tech, which means putting protections in place for how young people interact with technology.
  5. Kids under 18 can only play video games for one hour between 8–9pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they have to sign in with their real name. On top of that all cell phone use is banned in schools!

I just picked these 5 things, you will have to listen to the whole podcast episode as it’s a fascinating listen and lots more interesting nuggets that we could learn from in the West.

The conclusion on the podcast episode is that many things are actually better in terms of the whole social media addiction piece, but the addiction to tech is basically the same as in the West.

So, we can’t get away from the premise that as I’m typing this article on my nice 27" Mac (8 years old), using the gorgeous iA Writer app, I am just like the rest of the world, addicted to my tech. It’s no longer just a social media addiction that we all suffer from, some more than others of course, it’s actually tech addiction that is the real issue. I must just add, personally I have pulled back from social over the past few years a lot and hardly engage with it these days. Thanks to LinkedIn and its users posting all these ridiculous polls, I actually believe it has been a gift, it means I have stopped looking at their newsfeed altogether, which I am actually delighted about now. Although I won’t stop complaining about it.

The only newsfeed I sometimes enjoy is Twitter and I am really surprised at myself for saying that. I get my news there, I have created curated lists with only those people whose content I’m interested in seeing, without having to follow them of course (that’s pretty pointless these days). For example, I created a list “Comedians Tweeting”, with comedians I actually like, so I get a healthy dose of laughter each day!

There you have it, with all it’s human rights issues, China is actually doing some things very well, some things we in the West can learn from and potentially adopt, mirror and dare I say copy! Now there’s a novel idea!

That’s all folks! ツ

Originally published at on December 21, 2021.




Whiteboard Animations Producer, Storyteller and Podcast Host at Staying Alive UK Storytelling Productions |

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Michael de Groot

Michael de Groot

Whiteboard Animations Producer, Storyteller and Podcast Host at Staying Alive UK Storytelling Productions |

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