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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter
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“Walter Isaacson, who ate dinner with the Jobs family while researching his biography of Steve Jobs, told Bilton that, “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.” It seemed as if the people producing tech products were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Addiction originally meant a different kind of strong connection: in ancient Rome, being addicted meant you had just been sentenced to slavery.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“It’s hard to exaggerate how much the “like” button changed the psychology of Facebook use. What had begun as a passive way to track your friends’ lives was now deeply interactive, and with exactly the sort of unpredictable feedback that motivated Zeiler’s pigeons. Users were gambling every time they shared a photo, web link, or status update. A post with zero likes wasn’t just privately painful, but also a kind of public condemnation: either you didn’t have enough online friends, or, worse still, your online friends weren’t impressed. Like pigeons, we’re more driven to seek feedback when it isn’t guaranteed.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“To some extent we all need losses and difficulties and challenges, because without them the thrill of success weakens gradually with each new victory. That’s why people spend precious chunks of free time doing difficult crosswords and climbing dangerous mountains—because the hardship of the challenge is far more compelling than knowing you’re going to succeed.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“In 2000, Microsoft Canada reported that the average human had an attention span of twelve seconds; by 2013 that number had fallen to eight seconds. (According to Microsoft, a goldfish, by comparison, has an average attention span of nine seconds.)”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“It isn’t the body falling in unrequited love with a dangerous drug, but rather the mind learning to associate any substance or behavior with relief from psychological pain.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“In 2008, adults spent an average of eighteen minutes on their phones per day; in 2015, they were spending two hours and forty-eight minutes per day.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“They’re distracting because they remind us of the world beyond the immediate conversation,”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“It seemed as if the people producing tech products were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching
“Most people spend between one and four hours on their phones each day—and many far longer.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Addictive tech is part of the mainstream in a way that addictive substances never will be.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“humans find the sweet spot sandwiched between “too easy” and “too difficult” irresistible. It’s the land of just-challenging-enough computer games, financial targets, work ambitions, social media objectives, and fitness goals. Addictive experiences live in this sweet spot, where stopping rules crumble before obsessive goal-setting. Tech mavens, game developers, and product designers tweak their wares to ensure their complexity escalates as users gain insight and competence.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“One recent study suggested that up to 40 percent of the population suffers from some form of Internet-based addiction, whether to email, gaming, or porn.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“DNA evidence suggests that Neanderthals carried a gene known as DRD4-7R as long as forty thousand years ago. DRD4-7R is responsible for a constellation of behaviors that set Neanderthals apart from earlier hominids, including risk-taking, novelty-seeking, and sensation-seeking.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Tech isn’t morally good or bad until it’s wielded by the corporations that fashion it for mass consumption. Apps and platforms can be designed to promote rich social connections; or, like cigarettes, they can be designed to addict. Today, unfortunately, many tech developments do promote addiction.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Internet Addiction Test Select the response that best represents the frequency of each behavior listed using the scale below: 0 = Not applicable 1 = Rarely 2 = Occasionally 3 = Frequently 4 = Often 5 = Always How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended? ____ How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend online? ___ How often do you check your email before something else that you need to do? ___ How often do you lose sleep because of late night log-ins? ____ How often do you find yourself saying “just a few minutes” when online? ___ If you scored 7 or below, you show no signs of Internet addiction. A score of 8–12 suggests mild Internet addiction—you may spend too long on the web sometimes, but you’re generally in control of your usage. A score of 13–20 indicates moderate Internet addiction, which implies that your relationship with the Internet is causing you “occasional or frequent problems.” A score between 21 and 25 suggests severe Internet addiction, and implies that the Internet is causing “significant problems in your life.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching
“any nerve trouble, dyspepsia, mental and physical exhaustion, all chronic wasting diseases, gastric irritability, constipation, sick headache, neuralgia, etc. is quickly cured by the Coca Wine”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Coca is a most wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs and will cure seminal weakness, impotency, etc., when all other remedies fail”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Irresistible traces the rise of addictive behaviors, examining where they begin, who designs them, the psychological tricks that make them so compelling, and how to minimize dangerous behavioral addiction as well as harnessing the same science for beneficial ends. If app designers can coax people to spend more time and money on a smartphone game, perhaps policy experts can also encourage people to save more for retirement or donate to more charities.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Most people spend between one and four hours on their phones each day—and many far longer. This isn’t a minority issue. If, as guidelines suggest, we should spend less than an hour on our phones each day, 88 percent of Holesh’s users were overusing. They were spending an average of a quarter of their waking lives on their phones—more time than any other daily activity, except sleeping. Each month almost one hundred hours was lost to checking email, texting, playing games, surfing the web, reading articles, checking bank balances, and so on. Over the average lifetime, that amounts to a staggering eleven years. On average they were also picking up their phones about three times an hour. This sort of overuse is so prevalent that researchers have coined the term “nomophobia” to describe the fear of being without mobile phone contact (an abbreviation of “no-mobile-phobia”).”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Still, it’s important to use the term “behavioral addiction” carefully. A label can encourage people to see a disorder everywhere. Shy kids were suddenly labeled “Asperger’s sufferers” when the term became popular; people with volatile emotions were similarly labeled “bipolar.” Allen Frances, a psychiatrist and expert on addiction, is concerned about the term “behavioral addiction.” “If 35 percent of people suffer from a disorder, then it’s just a part of human nature,” he says. “Medicalizing behavioral addiction is a mistake. What we should be doing is what they do in Taiwan and Korea. There they see behavioral addiction as a social issue rather than a medical issue.” I agree. Not everyone who uses a smartphone for more than ninety minutes a day should be in treatment. But what is it about smartphones that makes them so compelling? Should we introduce structural checks and balances on the growing role they play in our collective lives? A symptom affecting so many people is no less real or more acceptable simply because it becomes a new norm; we need to understand that symptom to decide whether and how to deal with it.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“There isn’t a bright line between addicts and the rest of us. We’re all one product or experience away from developing our own addictions.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“In 2000, Microsoft Canada reported that the average human had an attention span of twelve seconds; by 2013 that number had fallen to eight seconds. (According to Microsoft, a goldfish, by comparison, has an average attention span of nine seconds.) “Human attention is dwindling,” the report declared. Seventy-seven percent of eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds claimed that they reached for their phones before doing anything else when nothing is happening”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“It’s easy to look back at how little Freud and Pemberton understood of cocaine with a sense of superiority. We teach our children that cocaine is dangerous, and it’s hard to believe that experts considered the drug a panacea only a century ago. But perhaps our sense of superiority is misplaced. Just as cocaine charmed Freud and Pemberton, today we’re enamored of technology. We’re willing to overlook its costs for its many gleaming benefits:”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Humans learn empathy and understanding by watching how their actions affect other people. Empathy can’t flourish without immediate feedback, and it’s a very slow-developing skill. One analysis of seventy-two studies found that empathy has declined among college students between 1979 and 2009. They’re less likely to take the perspective of other people, and show less concern for others. The problem is bad among boys, but it’s worse among girls. According to one study, one in three teenage girls say that people their age are mostly unkind to one another on social network sites. That’s true for one in eleven boys aged twelve to thirteen, and one in six boys aged fourteen to seventeen.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“There is one subtle psychological lever that seems to hasten habit formation: the language you use to describe your behavior. Suppose you were trying to avoid using Facebook. Each time you’re tempted, you can either tell yourself “I can’t use Facebook,” or you can tell yourself “I don’t use Facebook.” They sound similar, and the difference may seem trivial, but it isn’t. “I can’t” wrests control from you and gives it to an unnamed outside agent. It’s disempowering. You’re the child in an invisible relationship, forced not to do something you’d like to do, and, like children, many people are drawn to whatever they’re not allowed to do. In contrast, “I don’t” is an empowering declaration that this isn’t something you do. It gives the power to you and signals that you’re a particular kind of person—the kind of person who, on principle, doesn’t use Facebook. We”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Meanwhile, in 2015, there were 280 million smartphone addicts. If they banded together to form the “United States of Nomophobia,” it would be the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India, and the United States.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Gamification is designed to raise productivity where people would prefer to be lazy. In many contexts, laziness is the human default.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“the problem isn’t that people lack willpower; it’s that “there are a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job it is to break down the self-regulation you have.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
“Great scientists make their discoveries using two distinct approaches: tinkering and revolutionizing. Tinkering slowly wears down a problem, like water erodes rock, whereas in revolutions, a great thinker sees what no one else can.”
Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

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