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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Hardcover – March 7, 2017
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An Amazon Best Book of March 2017: In his fascinating new book, associate professor of marketing and best-selling author Adam Alter examines the rise of behavioral addiction in our current times and offers some suggestions for alleviating your own addictive behavior. Here’s a question: where is your phone right now? Chances are it’s within arm’s reach—and as Alter writes, a device that travels with you is always a better vehicle for addiction. Convenience weaponizes temptation, and with the ubiquity and convenience of technology these days, you can see why behavioral addiction to video games, Facebook, checking your email on your phone, even your Fitbit, is on the rise. Irresistible is a deep and wide-ranging study of addiction, and there is much food for thought here. Alter seems especially concerned about how children and teens interact with technology, citing that they are the most vulnerable of us all. But as adults we are much more susceptible than most of us imagine—we may think we’re just interacting with a screen, but it’s important to remember that there are dozens of highly-paid people behind that screen whose only job is to make sure that we don’t stop. --Chris Schluep, The Amazon Book Review
“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
“Alter’s sweep is broad: He includes not just the more obvious addictive technologies such as slot machines and video games, but the whole sweep of social media, dating apps, online shopping and other binge-inducing programs. He takes in everything (which today is most things) whose business model depends on being irresistible…[An] enjoyable yet alarming book.”—Washington Post
“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
“This important book explores how technology keeps us hooked, why that’s destructive—and how to take back control.” — People
"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
“For many, social media presents an ideal mode of expression, but it also holds the danger of becoming a crutch or – as Adam Alter’s brilliant new book illustrates – a behavioral addiction that threatens to undermine our mental health and relationships. Irresistible offers a crucial understanding of how we are psychologically tethered to our devices, along with much-needed solutions so that we can live rich, meaningful and healthy lives in an increasingly tech-driven age.”
—Susan Cain, co-founder of Quiet Revolution and New York Times bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
“Adam Alter has achieved the Holy Grail: a book that’s important, insightful, and a pleasure to read. With cutting-edge research about our tech-obsessed world, he soothes us via novel solutions to wean us from our social networks, smartphones, games, fitness watches and other gadgets. He also illustrates the stakes: that these technologies are preventing us from forming meaningful relationships, raising empathetic children , and separating work from sleep and play. Irresistible is essential reading if you’ve ever wondered why some experiences are so addictive, and how to regain control of your time, finances, and relationships.”
—Charles Duhigg, author of New York Times bestseller The Power of Habit
“In Irresistible, Adam Alter illuminates the surprising, fascinating, and frightening biological and psychological connections between a toddler hitting every button in an elevator, a surgical patient asking for painkillers, and the millions of people hooked on Facebook. No one who has ever seen an advertisement, checked their email on a smartphone, or used the Internet will come away quite the same.”
—David Epstein, author of New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene
“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
“There could be no better guide than Adam Alter to a technological landscape that’s increasingly designed to turn us into addicts. Irresistible is both a brilliant exploration of the sometimes sinister ways we get hooked, and a manual for finding focus and human connection in the midst of it all. Your sanity will thank you for reading it.”
—Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
“Looked at your phone recently? I thought so. Our devices have become more addictive than any drug, and thanks to Irresistible, now we know why. A powerful look at how technology sucks us in, and what we can do to resist its pull.”
—Jonah Berger, author of New York Times bestseller Contagious
“We live in an age of addiction—seemingly benign and otherwise—and Adam Alter, mixing the latest in behavioral science with briskly engaging storytelling, wakes us to an age-old problem that has found troubling new expression in the era of ubiquitous technology. You may never look at your smartphone in the same way again.”
—Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic and You May Also Like
“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
“A provocative, clearly written book that argues new technology causes new addictions.”
—Kevin Ashton, author of How to Fly a Horse
“[A] superb study of Internet addiction.” –Nature
“A book [that] lives up to its title.” -New Scientist
“Contains smart and fascinating analysis of how social media apps, gambling sites and computer games have been engineered to hook users.” -New Statesman (UK)
“Adam Alter makes the frightening case that…modern connectivity threatens the health of not just our children, but everyone…Alter’s book is illuminating on the ways that designers engineer behavioural addiction…Fascinating.”—The Guardian
“With a background in psychology and marketing, Alter brings a specialist eye to his material, and it shows…A fascinating, salutary read…Compelling.”—The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“Digs down into exactly how technology has us hooked by tapping in to our deepest needs and desires…Irresistible brims with insightful studies, explaining arcane concepts in science and tech with great clarity.”—The Times (UK)
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Top customer reviews
Alter does an excellent job of showing the built-in systems of addiction so that otherwise normal people can get sucked in through brain stimulation via powerful feedback, positive reinforcement, and other tools straight from the Las Vegas playbook.
The book loses steam around the half-way point because the book is bloated with filler: overly long explanations of tangential experiments and the travails of scientists working on breakthroughs, so that this book could have come in 100 pages shorter.
Still, this has cutting edge insights into what’s making us addicted to the Internet when this body of literature is relatively new. Alter has done a good job of showing he’s on the forefront of helping us understand the dangerous power of the Internet to capture us and for that reason his book is a necessary and mostly captivating read.
Recommended to several friends already. Excellent ideas in the book and to top it off, it's written very well. Each line flows into the next and there's a great connectivity and transition between ideas and examples that demonstrate the idea.
I loved this book because it resonated with my childhood with gaming and facebook addictions. And my social failures in middle/high school because of technology. I now am strongly disengaged from the internet and social media except to learn.
But my obsession with technology is far less disruptive than those with an online gambling addiction or people who are so focused on gaming that they wear diapers so they don’t need to leave the game to go to the toilet.
In his new book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, Adam Alter looks at the age of behavioral addiction. (Hat tip to Seth Godin for alerting me to this excellent book.)
This book is a must read for marketers because it clearly lays out how you can build addictive behavior into products and services. By knowing the qualities of being irresistible, you can harness that force for good… and understand when it becomes too powerful.
For many people, social media, video, and smart technology takes up a third of our lives (or more). When you factor out work and sleeping, many of us aren’t leaving any time for friends and family. We “don’t have time” for that big project we’ve always wanted to do.
With rules, you can manage the deluge
Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in January 2010 by saying “What this device does is extraordinary…” for 90 minutes he explained how the new iPad was the best way to interact with all kinds of digital data. He believed that everyone should own an iPad. But Steve Jobs refused to let his own kids use an iPad.
A simple bit of advice Alter provides are rules for the evening. Don't look at any screens in the hour or two before bed because the blue light disrupts your body rhythms. And never, ever leave your phone in the bedroom because it is too tempting to glance at.
Me? I’m doing my best to resist email zero. It’s really tough. But when I do, I can get real work done. Like write this blog post.
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