I bought a copy of Adam Alter’s book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked from a library sale and quickly fell into an obsessed trance. Although I suspected as much, this book confirmed my worst fears: I’m addicted to my phone, and the tech companies planned it this way.
I liked to think I could quit my phone at any time. While I can, theoretically, Alter lays out a narrative where all aspects of our lives are intertwined with technology. It’s hard to have a professional job — or maintain relationships with relatives far away — without a mobile phone or tablet. And, while you’re living your life, companies like Facebook-Instagram and Google-YouTube are doing what they can to grab more and more of your attention.
Even if you don’t want to give it.
For me, Instagram seems to pull me into a hellish landscape where they serve up content from “people I should know” and influencers that I never asked to see but cannot stop watching. My perfectly curated feed of cat photos has turned into a constant barrage of fitness videos, advertisements, and inspirational videos from people who aren’t all that inspirational.
I block some of the more pervasive accounts that make me feel bad, but Instagram still finds a way to push addictive content in my face. I’d look away, but what else am I doing?
Oh, yeah, it turns out I have a life.
If it were as simple as turning off the phone and expressing willpower, we wouldn’t be a lonely and isolated society. Alter’s book offers ideas and solutions to restore some of your time — and reclaim your soul — from these apps and platforms. I was so impressed with the book that Alter was a guest on my podcast:
If you find yourself sitting in your car looking at Snapchat long after you parked, or if you wonder if you should join the craze and get a TikTock account, let me recommend Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
We all need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Hopefully, it’s not too late.