Former Facebook employee puts up ‘No Tech Zone’ signs around San Francisco

Signs declaring parks in San Francisco ‘No Tech Zones’ have been appearing all over the city, and a former Facebook employee is behind them

A former Facebook employee has been putting up signs in parks around San Francisco warning visitors that they are entering a “No Tech Zone”, in an attempt to discourage people from using their phones.

The first sign appeared in Alamo Square last month, leaving local authorities confused by its mysterious arrival. Many assumed it was a protest against gentrification in the city, due to the influx of affluent software developerscoming to work in Silicon Valley.

The sign was quickly taken down, but this week several more official-looking signs appeared throughout the city’s green spaces – including Alamo, Duboce and Dolores parks – declaring them “No Tech Zones”.

Ivan Cash, a former Facebook employee turned artist, has now revealed himself as the source. Mr Cash reportedly enlisted friends and local artists to help him put up the signs over the weekend.

In a video, he explains that the surge of free WiFi and the proliferation of smart devices prompted him to give residents “just a little reminder” that parks are supposed to provide “a natural escape from the modern world”:

“Parks have historically served as safe havens from the fast pace of city life. And for this reason it strikes me as bizarre, seeing so many park­goers staring at their screens rather than taking in the scenic view of their natural surroundings,” Cash told The Guardian.

“To me it feels especially paradoxical, being totally consumed by a screen in a place defined for its lack of modern technology.”

According to a recent academic study by De Montfort University Leicester, people who use mobile phones and Internet heavily are more likely to forget things, make blunders and be less aware of their surroundings.

Dr Lee Hadlington, author of the study, found the more times a person spent on the internet or on a mobile phone, the more likely they were to experience “cognitive failures”.

These included missing important appointments, failing to notice sign posts on the road, daydreaming while being spoken to and forgetting why they went from one part of the house to another.

“This is a very under-examined area and a very important one. We are using technology on a daily basis but we don’t understand its effect on us,” said Dr Hadlington.

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