The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

Book - 2017
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People have been addicted to substances for thousands of years. For the past two decades, we've also been hooked on technologies, such as Instagram, Netflix, and Facebook -- inventions that we've adopted because we assume they'll make our lives better. These inventions have profound upsides, but their extraordinary appeal isn't an accident. Technology companies and marketers have teams of engineers and researchers devoted to keeping us engaged. They know how to push our buttons, and how to coax us into using their products for hours, days, and weeks on end. Tracing the very notion of addiction through history, Adam Alter shows that we're only just beginning to understand the epidemic of behavioral addiction gripping society. He takes us inside the human brain at the very moment we score points on a smartphone game, or see that someone has liked a photo we've posted on Instagram. But more than that, Alter heads the problem off at the pass, letting us know what we can do to step away from the screen. He lays out the options we have to address this problem before it truly consumes us. After all, who among us has struggled to ignore the ding of a new email, the next episode in a TV series, or the desire to play a game just one more time?
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2017
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781594206641
Characteristics: 354 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Feb 01, 2018

Adam Alter tells stories well. The book Irresistible is filled with stories and quotes from interviews. But he draws conclusions from those stories that just aren't justified. He leaps to a conclusion quicker than a kangaroo!

Boil out the stories and the unsupported conclusions and you have next to nothing left. Adam Alter seems to have done no experimentation or real research. While he is a professor of marketing at a business school, I don't remember a single part of the book that draws on his academic expertise.

Like Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Charles Duhigg and Ariana Huffington, all of whom blurb this book, Adam Alter seems to be trying to cash in by providing empty entertainment instead of thought-out ideas. It looks like that is working. These kind of people are raking in millions. Seems a shame.

AL_SARAH Sep 10, 2017

One of the best books I have read about addiction. The author highlights how the brain is affected by technological addictions and explains the various types of addictions to technology (addiction to video games, shopping on the internet, social media, etc.). The author provides information on how to overcome addiction; in one example, there is a camp to help young adult men overcome video game addiction. This book is written very well and has good examples of research done on the subject.

Aug 12, 2017

Certainly addressing a serious issue and well considered points.

Jun 05, 2017

"Irresistible" was much more interesting and informative than I initially expected.

To make his point about addiction to the Internet and online devices Alter provides a good overview of behavioral addiction. In short, our brains are wired to respond to seemingly insignificant rewards and punishments (perhaps better termed non-rewards or anti-rewards). Online game designers and social-media site designers exploit these generally unconscious responses to keep users playing their game or visiting their site.

If you're one of those who can't understand why some people can't go a minute without looking at their phones or checking their email, or if you worry about your own apparent addiction to electronic distractions, I recommend "Irresistible". It certainly enabled me to more clearly understand the apparent addiction to online toys I see going on around me...


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