What Makes New Technology So Addictive? Read Adam Alter’s New Book, Irresistible
Addiction is nothing new. But today, it’s all about tech: Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Instagram, and the latest app keep us tied to our screens. So what makes these platforms so enticing? In Irresistible, Adam Alter breaks down the latest in behavioral addiction—and shows us how to kick the habit.
Consider the amount of time we spend interacting with devices—with screens—each day. Are you checking email compulsively? Scrolling through Facebook updates? Binge-watching the latest serial drama? Whatever your tech-based fix, you’re addicted—and Alter, bestselling author and professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, knows why. In Irresistible, he reverse-engineers the ubiquitous tech that’s come to dominate our lives. He shows how our obsessions with Pinterest or Snapchat are no accident, but the result of careful work by tech companies and marketers, who design their games, apps, and experiences with surprisingly predictable human psychology in mind.
But while certainly distracting—and unhealthy—our addictions aren’t beyond the realm of help. Alter shows how we’re only starting to comprehend behavioral addiction. He zooms in on the human brain at the moment we score points in a smartphone game, or receive a Like on Facebook, and explains what’s really going on at the neurological level. What desires and fears are savvy designers tapping into? And how can we navigate this shiny new world with better intelligence—in the boardroom, at home, and in our social lives?
Here’s what early reviews are saying about Irresistible:
“As if to prove his point, Adam Alter has written a truly addictive book about the rise of addiction. Irresistible is a fascinating and much needed exploration of one of the most troubling phenomena of modern times.”
— Malcolm Gladwell, author of New York Times bestsellers David and Goliath and Outliers
“If you can’t stop checking, clicking, surfing and liking, put your device down and read Adam Alter’s Irresistible, an important, groundbreaking book about why we’re addicted to technology, how we got here, and what we should do next.”
— Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution and Thrive
“One of the most mesmerizing and important books I’ve read in quite some time. Alter brilliantly illuminates the new obsessions that are controlling our lives and offers the tools we need to rescue our businesses, our families, and our sanity.”
— Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
“In this smart, sharply-argued book, Adam Alter lays out the evidence for a hidden danger in our lives: behavioral addiction. From tracking social media “likes” to counting our steps, our actions are being guided less by our own volition than by the architecture of the technologies we use. Irresistible is a fascinating read that will leave you enlightened — and alarmed.”
— Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
“I originally wrote this sentence on an analog word processor—that is, paper. Such was the impact of Adam Alter’s meticulous research into behavioral addiction that I’ve become increasingly frightened of the monster that is my computer. Alter isn’t an alarmist, and is evenhanded and rational in his approach toward technology, which makes his fascinating and witty book all the more powerful. In a world of ever-increasing connectivity and omnipresent screens, Irresistible is absolutely essential reading. But for your own sake, buy the paper version.”
— Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind
“Adam Alter’s brilliant book is a necessary map for navigating a digitally connected world that’s teeming with addictive temptations. It’s also a crackerjack box of fascinating scientific discoveries on games, habits, and behaviors. I circled, starred, underlined, or wrote exclamation marks on basically every page.”
— Derek Thompson, Senior Editor at The Atlantic, and author of Hit Makers