Apple's Tim Cook talks mental health and 'mindless scrolling'

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Mental health is a crisis, Apple CEO Tim Cook declared in an interview on a trip to New York, a discussion that covers the need for people to look after themselves, as well as Cook's own ways to unwind.




Cook paid a visit to New York in early October, using the time at one point to meet to mental health app Shine's co-founders Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey. As part of an interview centering on mental health, Cook used the conversation to promote the app, as well as expanding on the idea that people need to look after their mental health more.

On the importance of promoting Shine, Cook starts by pointing out the app had won in Apple's Best of the App Store awards in 2020. "And there probably wasn't a year that would have made them more essential," he told Bustle, with elements such as the murder of George Floyd and the pandemic "intersecting in such a way that no-one would have predicted."

Referring to how mental health "is a crisis" that has been "stigmatized so much," Cook praises Shine for "bringing together community and stitching together a number of different things that will make [change] systemic in nature instead of a slogan."

When asked if he talks about mental health as a leader at work, Cook admits he "always" talks about things that "gets me away from the stresses of the day." Cook's meditation is hiking. "It's the being out in nature and feeling so insignificant in the world, and a lot of the problems tend to seem a little smaller."

"You know, I don't have an S on my chest and a cape on my back. I suffer from the pandemic lows as much as everybody else does," he adds. "I know that I'm privileged in so many ways, but none of us are privileged to the point that mental health is not a key factor in life."

On technology's role in the world, and reports of how Facebook and Instagram affect teenagers and young adults, Cook refers to his belief that "technology should serve humanity and not the other way around." The worry of people overusing technology led to the development of Screen Time, but the duration is "just one element. It's also what you're doing."

"I've often worried about the endless scrolling, the surrounding yourself with negativity and so forth," the CEO states, with Shine being an app that instead tries to serve humanity.

"We want people to do things with their devices, like the photography exhibit [that he visited earlier that day] or connecting with family and friends with FaceTime," he offers. "Not endless mindless scrolling."

Cook himself admits that he has found himself in a spiral that he realized wasn't great. "Like many people, I found that when we deployed Screen Time, my estimate of what I was doing was different than the reality, and it did cause me to change. And I hope everybody goes through that process."

Turning to the growth of the App Store and exceeding the predictions of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, Cook says that Apple "does a fantastic job" of not living in a box when it comes to products, but it's tougher to estimate success.

"At that time, our gut was that eventually everyone would want a smartphone, but we did not envision the speed at which that would occur," he explains. "Because I remember we talked about Should Apple make a feature phone?' if you remember them. But we felt No, no, no - the future is in the smartphone, so let's put our energies in there."

"But nobody - none of us - would have guess that thee would be 1.8 million apps in the store, and that there would be over 2 million people in just the U.S. that are working on apps," Cook continued. "Those were all things beyond the imagination at the time."

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,764member
    Pretty reasonable take. I've experienced "doom scrolling" over the past year or two as well. It's getting better for me, as we stabilize, and get closer to ending the pandemic. I've found having a good book to read at bedtime as an alternative helps.
    dewmewilliamlondonlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 5
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,946member
    The troubling events of the past 18 months or so aren't nearly as depressing for me as are the reactions of people to those events. Bad stuff like the pandemic will always happen. How people work together to recover from the bad stuff happening is what really matters. Overcoming challenges should make us all stronger and more resilient. Unfortunately, there is no longer a common goal to collectively overcome challenges when they can instead be sustained and weaponized to inflict pain and suffering on others. Everything has become a binary zero sum game. One side has to totally win and one side has to totally lose. Nothing in the middle. Ever.

    I don't know if the pandemic was really the last straw that broke the camel's back, because it was pretty cracked before the pandemic started. The biggest problem with the pandemic grief process is that too many people are stuck in an infinite loop between the denial stage and anger stage and will never move on.

    In terms of positivity, in addition to outdoor physical activity, listening to music, and staying in touch with friends virtually, I've always found the TED talks to be uplifting.
    edited October 5 minicoffeelolliverOfermuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobrabadmonkjony0
  • Reply 3 of 5
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 989member
    dewme said:
    The troubling events of the past 18 months or so aren't nearly as depressing for me as are the reactions of people to those events. Bad stuff like the pandemic will always happen. How people work together to recover from the bad stuff happening is what really matters. Overcoming challenges should make us all stronger and more resilient. Unfortunately, there is no longer a common goal to collectively overcome challenges when they can instead be sustained and weaponized to inflict pain and suffering on others. Everything has become a binary zero sum game. One side has to totally win and one side has to totally lose. Nothing in the middle. Ever.

    I don't know if the pandemic was really the last straw that broke the camel's back, because it was pretty cracked before the pandemic started. The biggest problem with the pandemic grief process is that too many people are stuck in an infinite loop between the denial stage and anger stage and will never move on.

    In terms of positivity, in addition to outdoor physical activity, listening to music, and staying in touch with friends virtually, I've always found the TED talks to be uplifting.
    How refreshing to read a take that isn’t concerned with an obsessive allegiance to one side or the other. I agree…straight down the middle is the best way out. Together, with contributions and concessions by all. 
    edited October 5 watto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 4 of 5
    dk49dk49 Posts: 185member
    "Mindless scrolling" - referring to Facebook?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 5
    doaldoal Posts: 17member
    What about mindless yearly iPhone updates?
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