Just Another Book Club- September Book

Please leave your comments below or within the appropriate post on my Facebook page. Please feel free to peruse other people’s comments and respond to them.

Irresistible: why you are addicted to technology and how you can set yourself free

by Adam Alter

cover

Synopsis

Irresistible is written by psychologist Adam Alter about how society is becoming addicted to our smartphones, laptops, game consoles and television. In other words time in front of a screen is becoming all consuming for most of us. Adam Atler explores how this affects our everyday life, relationships and mental well being. Towards the end of the book, Atler suggests ways we can use technology differently and how it will lead us to living happier lives.

My Quick Review

Well, this is a book I was in urgent need to read. I am as guilty as the next person of spending too much time on my phone, endlessly checking one social media site and then swiftly onto the next. I would say 80% of my smartphone use is probably completely unnecessary. The amount of productivity I could achieve instead of perusing the Instagram photos of a friend of a friend of friend’s account and LOLling at cute cat videos is beyond ridiculous (though I’m still not convinced cat videos are a complete waste of time). So, I thought this book would be perfect for me to read and digest. By the reaction I got when I first published the list of books we were going to read this year, it seems many of you out there were in need of this book too.

I found this book fascinating and very informative. I learnt a lot about addiction. For me, this book completely dispelled the myth that certain people have “addictive personalities” and it’s only these people that become addicted. It was also very interesting how the way game designers engineer their games, deliberately fosters behavioural addiction.

One small negative that I found with this book was that, I’m not sure how necessary or helpful some of the diagrams in the book were. I’m not convinced that I really needed a breakdown of the number of books that contain the word “perfectionism”. Just the fact that it’s increased over the years would have sufficed.

Alter, covered most aspects of screen time addiction, but I do feel it slightly lacked when it came to discussing people who just aimlessly peruse the internet without any interaction. Adler does provides a very good explanation on the gambling side of technology (referring to both actual gambling and the gambling high people obtain from “likes” on social media).

I also felt it would’ve been useful to have a short, accessible list of his suggestions for reducing technology use at the end of the book. Instead if you want that information again, you would have to read through the final chapter again.

The book did a good job of fairly representing the positive aspects of technology. I don’t feel the book could be accused of presenting a one-sided arguement.

As I said before the book was very interesting and I couldn’t put it down (making the book “irresistible”- boom!), but felt the title was slightly misleading. Whilst there were some suggestions, I didn’t really feel it was a book one read to enable the reduction of technology usage. Though it did provide excellent and detailed information regarding addiction and why technology is so addictive.

Overall, this is an excellent & fascinating book. However, I don’t appear to have reduced my screen time. Maybe I need to reread that final chapter?

Questions to Consider

  1. Did you learn anything new about addiction from reading this book?
  2. Since reading this book has it changed your attitude towards technology?
  3. Have you reduced the amount of time in front of a screen?
  4. Do you think the book explained the influence of the internet on society in enough detail?
  5. After reading this book, what are your views on society’s future with regards to technology and it’s influence?
  6. What do you feel was the overall purpose of this book?
  7. Do you feel this book succeeded with its purpose?
  8. What section/paragraph/sentence left a lasting impression on you, if any?
  9. Do you feel the writing style of the author was accessible?
  10. Has this book inspired you to read more books on a similar subject matter?

(Questions created by me)

You don’t have to answer these questions in your comments, but they might help to get you thinking about the book or to prompt a discourse.

October’s book is A Million Little Pieces by James Fey. I’ll be starting the conversation for this on Monday 6th November.

For a list of all the other books we’ll be reading this year, please click here.

67 comments

  1. roughwighting · 11 Days Ago

    Welll, we all should read this book. Time and time again I tell myself to LEAVE MY PHONE ALONE. I’m doing better (ie, not checking my FB, Twitter and Instagram accounts as much). Once a day should do it, don’t you think? Thanks for the great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Yes agree once or twice a day really should be enough. I really don’t need to look at half of the stuff I look at online. We could all do with “detoxing” somewhat. Moderate use of our phones is fine x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucy Mitchell · 10 Days Ago

    Has it reduced your time on gadgets? Interesting book which I must read. Really difficult these days when everything is accessed online; banking, shopping etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      I’m ashamed to say Lucy that it hasn’t. Even after reading a book on how addictive phones are, I’m still addictive. Perhaps I need to do some kind of 12 steps phone rehab?! X

      Like

  3. ellenbest24 · 10 Days Ago

    Since being a bit poorly I have been somewhat joined to a screen. Your post/review made me think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      It’s so easy to do though, isn’t it? The book is a real thinker x

      Like

  4. Claire Wong · 10 Days Ago

    Sounds like a very interesting, and much needed, book. But as you say, we could all do with some practical advice on how to have a healthier balance away from screen time. Maybe there’s a future blog post in that? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Ha maybe! Perhaps I should try everything and come back with a blog post! X

      Like

  5. Love Cake Create · 10 Days Ago

    I freely admit that I have too much screentime! We’ll be coming into summer in Sydney shortly and I think this would be a great summer read. Definitely adding to my Need to Read list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Marvellous! Please do come back and let us know what you made of it. I think you’ll enjoy it x

      Like

  6. Midlife Smarts · 10 Days Ago

    Thanks for writing this. Sounds like an interesting read. I spend WAAAAY too much time in front of a screen. Got Mac-Pinky-Syndrome (made that up – but it’s sore!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Oh I swear my phone usage has given me painful thumbs! It’s quite sad really! Yes definitely an interesting read x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. yourvetonline1 · 10 Days Ago

    It can be frustrating to read a book hoping for the gem ‘how to’…only to be left wanting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Yes exactly, I did feel this with this book for definite. It was still worth reading. So interesting. Thank you x

      Like

  8. Ritu · 10 Days Ago

    I think I need to read this book! I am constantly talking about the kids in school having access to screens too often, and yet when I am sat away from school, I find myself constantly looking at one too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Yes, me too! Forever worrying about my child’s amount of screen time when I should be looking at my own. I downloaded the Moment app on my phone & results were shocking 😳

      Like

  9. As full-time travellers, we rely on the internet to communicate with future housesits and more importantly to keep in contact with people we know. As with most things in life it is all about balance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Agree. It’s all in moderation. Much like chocolate and wine. A bit every day won’t hurt you, it’s when you have it all day, everyday you need to worry ha. The book does talk about the advantages that modern technology offers, so it’s quite a balanced book. Cheers x

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Em Linthorpe · 10 Days Ago

    Hmmm. Sounds like it might have some good stuff in there, and worth a read. Having said that, as bloggers, we use social media in a different way than the regular folks on the street. It is essential to our hobby and in some cases livelihood. Does he address people who work with social media, such as bloggers, marketing folk etc? X

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Yes it’s definitely worth a read. It was so interesting. I don’t recall him talking about bloggers, but yes it is essential for bloggers & marketing manager said etc. I think it’s fine if it’s part of your job though or even outside of your job. I just think it’s when your usage is out of control and you can’t live without it that you have to re-evaluate your habits! X

      Like

    • angelanoelauthor · 6 Days Ago

      One aspect of the book I thought did speak to social media use for bloggers and marketers related to how gamers of multi-player games like World of Warcraft get “addicted” to the communal aspect of the game. With friends in the virtual world who’ve joined forces to go on missions and such, leaving the game to use the toilet can mean feeling like you’re leaving your friends and letting them down. I’ve felt this sense of shame or concern sometimes when I can’t get to everyone’s posts to read and comment. I love the BUYB community and feel so committed to supporting the group, that I have to tear myself away sometimes or end up spending hours online instead of outside riding bikes with my family. So–clearly–balance is needed. But, it did strike me as similar. And I reinforced my own commitment to care about everyone, but to maintain reasonable boundaries.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 4 Days Ago

        This is SUCH a good point Angela. I totally hear you. It does become a kind of addiction with the blogging community. I want to read another blog and another and show my support for that blog and that one etc etc But you do have to cut yourself off sometimes (a lot of the time). Otherwise, you don’t get anything done or socialise with your loved ones, which is *exactly* like addiction to online games as you say. Great point.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Unbound Roots · 10 Days Ago

    Angela, one of your book club members, actually talked to me about this book you all have read. It is now on my ‘To Read’ list. I look forward to what the author has to say about the amount of time people spend online. I often wonder how much is too much. Thanks for a great review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Great! I hope you come back and let us know what you think of the book. Cheers x

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Having just had a night out with my parents and kids where the tweens were constantly being told to put their phones away, hubby and I were talking about this very thing this morning. Will definitely take a look at this and be sending it to my kids! Can anyone join your bookclub? Cx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nicole McClean · 10 Days Ago

    This has been on my reading list for a while. I’m guilty of spending way to much time on my phone and laptop sometimes adding the iPad! It’s beyond ridiculous and unnecessary I’ve just placed an order for the book after reading this so thank you. Have you found since reading it you’ve reduced your gadget time?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Sadly, I haven’t! I need to reread the last chapter and take on board the suggestions he makes for reducing time spent. Hope you enjoy the book. Please come back & let me know what you think x

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You Can Always Start Now · 10 Days Ago

    Like you I would be reading the final chapter again for ideas of how to cut down and alternatives. Agree about too much screen time especially when I see phones practically attached to hand. For me it is about taking a cell-phone call when you are visiting someone else and just chatting – I mean really is the person in front of you not worth attention. Sorry my rant for the day haven’t finished my first cup of coffee!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Eurgh that is SO rude and definitely a pet hate of mine too! We need to learn to not be so attached to our phones for sure. Cheers x

      Like

    • angelanoelauthor · 6 Days Ago

      I seem to recall a comment in the book about an experiment done with two people having a conversation and the impact of simply having that conversation in the presence of a smart phone nearby changed the way the participants felt about the interaction. Less connected… of course I can’t find the passage in the book. But I recently met with a friend of mine who put his phone on the table. I felt the phone’s presence the whole time. It’s like this whole other being. I feel like a small change we can all make is to keep our phones in our purses or pockets anytime we’re meeting with someone face to face. It’s such a simple thing. There’s no need for phones on the table!

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 4 Days Ago

        Yes that was really interesting and it’s surprising what a difference it makes when a phone is in view. It’s almost like a third person, that kind of makes us feel a bit on edge and we’re doing our best to ignore it! I find if I leave my phone in the kitchen or even better upstairs, I can go without checking it and almost behave like how I did pre-smartphones and have conversations with my husband etc!

        Liked by 1 person

      • angelanoelauthor · 4 Days Ago

        I think we all probably need to do what Alter says one of his interview subjects did, deliberately “lose” our phones now and again!

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 4 Days Ago

        It’s really not such a bad idea x

        Like

  15. Kelsey · 10 Days Ago

    This book is on my To Be Read list, and I appreciate your post. I wonder if not putting in a chapter or a list of concrete suggestions was purposeful on the part of Adam Alter; along with our screens we are looking for quick snapshots before our thumb can reach back down and scroll again, so perhaps this can be seen as a sort of challenge: take the information Alter presents, think about how it is personally relevant, and then make willful changes rather than follow a few quick, “forceful” suggestions. “Freedom” would feel much sweeter when accomplished that way, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      You are so right! These days we are so used to instant access to information, we seemingly don’t have the time for lengthy reads (this reminds me of how some people refuse to read long blog posts as they don’t have the time). Great point x

      Liked by 1 person

  16. A.J. Sefton · 10 Days Ago

    No, this book is not something I would read. Technology has simply replaced television (yes I know, technically it IS technology) and newspapers. If you look at photographs from 50 years ago, everyone would be standing at the bus stop or station, cafes, pubs or whatever, reading newspapers. Some would take them to the bathroom with them, read them everywhere. Before that we had less leisure time and life was simply work and sleep.

    Yes, I think we all use it too much but t is because it is an easy, habitual pastime. There are instances of rudeness, such as bringing out your phone when in conversation. Personally I ban all ‘phones from the dining table and bedroom. I do have my Kindle though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Yes, I definitely ban phones at the table and in the bedroom too. I agree to a certain extent that phones have just replaced TV & newspapers. I remember my headmaster moaning that all TVs should be replaced with bookcases and that TVs are dumbing down kids’ brains. I’ve also seen those photos of commuters from 50yrs ago engrossed in their papers like people are these days with their phones. However, this book does explain the addictive nature of phones, iPads, gaming etc and how it is far more intense and how everything is cleverly designed to stop us from putting down our phones. Whereas with a newspaper you can put it down once you’ve read it. Plus you can’t carry a TV around with you like you can a phone. There’s also the argument how the constant barrage of information thrown at us via new technology is shortening our attention spans. This also leads to lack of empathy (excuse me I’m summarising everything a bit too succinctly here, so probably not explaining everything very well), but the increased lack of empathy in people caused by social media was not as much of a problem pre-new technology. All in moderation is definitely the key. Thanks so much for reading and apologies for my rambling answer! X

      Liked by 2 people

  17. craftybartsyp · 10 Days Ago

    Full disclosure: haven’t read the book. However I imagine there are tons of books/info out now that is about reducing technology use and such. What made you decide on this book?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 10 Days Ago

      Ha good question. Someone recommended it to me, though I can’t remember who.However, I do remember they inspired me to read it. Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lisa Orchard · 10 Days Ago

    Thank you for highlighting this book. I’m putting it on my TBR pile. Oy! My pile is getting bigger and bigger and I have less time to read. But this one is going to the top right away! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Gary · 9 Days Ago

    Hmm, not read this book, but the content sounds proper in tune with my own views on social and mental issues relating to a world ever more dependant on screens and virtual existences. Imagine the technology being developed now achieving (which it will) full VR that is in such high definition you could actually be in a real world. What happens if that existence far out reaches the real one you actually live in? For many social media is already doing that, on-line emotional affairs for example. Grass is always greener type of stuff somewhere else. I fear the ability to problem solve in reality will waiver, might be it already is. We see the potential for fake news and election rigging already. Less and less people will be able to differentiate actual facts from artificial ones. Not sure what AI will make of all this once it appears…oh yes… The Matrix.

    Ordered the next book so hopefully I can join in next time Hayley. Do you have a set of questions that are typically asked per book??

    Liked by 2 people

    • thebeasley · 9 Days Ago

      Your thoughts are really interesting Gary and I completely agree with you. The lack of empathy that now exists in a lot of teenagers (not all of course) is of a direct result of social media and this is very worrying indeed. The mental effect it has on people is also a worry- especially for women. So glad you’ve ordered the next book. Do just join in whenever you can. There’s no time constraint. There’s always a set of questions that people can answer if they want to, but don’t have to. They’re usually the ones that the publisher sends out though, so they are always specific to the book. There were no publisher questions for this particular book though so I had to make some up! Cheers x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 9 Days Ago

        I often have thoughts that extrapolate the now into the future! I think the links we are discussing are also likely to impact MH too. Its quite scary when you look and see a world going blind into an alley. Not only that, but tech is actually losing skills we had for generations. Fewer and fewer people know how to mend or fix things. I had a chat with a car mechanic not so long ago and he was bemoaning the skills of some of his apprentices because modern cars all self diagnose and with their kit will even say the part number to order. Scary stuff!

        That said, I sewed up a school blazer seam yesterday…but the rest of my household probably don’t know how to thread a needle!!!

        Liked by 2 people

      • thebeasley · 9 Days Ago

        *shamefully holds up hand* guilty here too! It’s my husband that does all the sewing in our house!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 8 Days Ago

        Oh my, really…I had you as most practical indeed lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 8 Days Ago

        Practically useless, yes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 8 Days Ago

        Gosh no, that sounded so sad. I think you have loads of skills. Certainly blogging is one! I bet you can cook too 🎃🕸🎃

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 8 Days Ago

        Haha oh yes I have some skills certainly and I’m not too bad at throwing together something decent to eat either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gary · 8 Days Ago

        There we go, sewing aside you’re multitalented. Oh, that book arrived today too. Rather larger than I thought 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

  20. stevefakeballmer · 8 Days Ago

    Is ther an audiobook?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. angelanoelauthor · 6 Days Ago

    As you can see from Erin’s note, I’ve already begun telling everyone in the whole world about this book. I tend to do that. . . this one and The Calorie Myth seem to be on my list of “I’m going to talk about this until everyone around me starts to either pull their hair out or walk away from me mumbling something about being late for an important date.”

    A few quotes I thought were interesting, “Behavior is addiction only if the rewards it brings now are eventually outweighed by damaging consequences.” And, ” Harmonious passions “make life worth living” but an obsessive passion plagues the mind.”

    As I read the book, I became acutely aware of my own technical dependence and the constant war in my house about TV and video game time. My son has to earn screen time. And we’re diligent about it. But, the incidental exposure and the scary statistics of kids not knowing how to develop emotional connections or attention spans freaks me right out. I reflected on the times when I’m reading a blog post, or writing one and my son comes in to the room. I’m so into what I’m doing I can’t spare attention for him. What is the message I’m sending in that moment? Does that rise to the level of “damaging consequences?” If it doesn’t now, I want to make absolutely sure it never does. I want my son to see me in healthy relationship to the tools of technology, not ruled by them. This book helped build my awareness of problem behaviors in myself and others. It also increased my knowledge of how Facebook, fitness trackers, and other numerical metrics can skew my perception. If I allow myself to be manipulated by them, they can’t help but manipulate me.

    In the Wonder Woman movie, the villain–who happens to be a god–says, “I just whisper in their ears, I never MAKE them do it.” (or something to that effect). This strikes me as relevant here. If we know we’re under threat of manipulation, where our natures are less asset and more liability, we can be more guarded in how we approach technology, now and into the future.
    Maybe the future will be dystopian. Like in the 1993 movie Demolition Man, where Taco Bell is the only restaurant and sex happens only with VR goggles and no actual contact. I hope we don’t get that far, because first, yuck. And also yuck. But, it could happen if we don’t become conscious of our actions. I don’t think denying that there’s a threat out there is the right approach. I do think adopting a “watch, listen, and be ready to take action if damaging consequences arise” is the right one.

    I think the author did a good job of making the science relatable. Weirdly, maybe because I’ve read a lot of behavioral psychology books and articles, many of the examples he used I’d read about before. But they seemed well placed in the story and appropriate for what he was trying to convey. I agree with you, Hayley, that the diagrams were a little silly. But all in all, I found this book an exceptional and timely read that will have an impact on my daily life.

    Now that’s like a blog post in and of itself!! I hope you don’t mind me taking up so much of your comment space!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebeasley · 4 Days Ago

      Not at all, Angela. This is what this book club is for. Other people’s reviews here are actually far more interesting to me than my own. I love the discussion surrounding books especially as each person brings a slightly different perception to the table.

      I love those quotes, there were many like throughout the book that struck me too.

      It does terrify me too how technology is effecting attention spans and empathy levels. I worry all the time as to whether I’m doing enough to protect my daughter from this and this book did help me question this too.

      My goodness, that Wonder Woman quote is just perfect when it comes to relating it to technology usage. I LOVE it! And oh please I hope this world doesn’t go all Demolition Man on us haha (eek!). Have you watched any of the Black Mirror episodes? Charlie Brooker (amazing writer and from my hometown and went to the same school as me incidentally) touches on how modern technology is shaping our society and he has some interesting ideas how things may progress. They are worth watching, it’s very good TV.

      Yes the science is very relatable and this book as a whole has made me want to read more behavioural psychology books.

      Great! Thanks so much. So happy to hear you loved the book so much and that you’re making everyone read it! x

      Liked by 1 person

      • angelanoelauthor · 4 Days Ago

        I’m definitely going to check out Black Mirror! I’m working on a new category of posts for my blog on cognitive bias and how these mental shortcuts impact our behavior. It’s a big topic, I’m hoping i can do it justice. I’ve read a number of books on the topic, but that doesn’t make me an expert by far. So much to learn and think about. And this book definitely made the cut on ideas to noodle on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 4 Days Ago

        Oh wow, I can’t wait for these posts! It does sound like a big subject, but I have every confidence you can tackle it. I wanted to do my Masters degree (do you have Masters degrees in the US?) in psychology specialising in social psychology (alas it wasn’t meant to be), so I am so fascinated in this kind of thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • angelanoelauthor · 4 Days Ago

        We do have Masters degrees. I don’t personally have one. I thought about an MFA in creative writing–even still have the letters of recommendation I planned to send in. But ultimately decided against it. I think psychology is endlessly fascinating. I’ll never be an expert, but I can be a very interested and informed novice!

        Liked by 1 person

      • thebeasley · 4 Days Ago

        Yes a creative writing MA would fantastic too. I think I’ll stick to being a Psychology novice too. Looking forward to your posts x

        Liked by 1 person

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