This week’s selected media: April 7, 2024: Irresistible and The Story of More

April 7, 2024 by Joshua
in Tips

This week I finished:

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, by Adam Alter: Another fascinating, intriguing book on how much we are creating a culture of addiction and isolation, and tolerating it.

Alter discusses chemical addiction, but focuses on behavioral addiction, which he clarifies is not like addiction. Behavioral addiction is addiction. Industry is learning ever more effective ways to manipulate our motivational and reward circuitry and addict us. He mostly looks at addiction delivered through cell phones and video games, though also TV designed for bingeing, online shopping, gambling, pornography, and a few others. He also focuses on the effects on children as well as their relative helplessness, not that adults aren’t immune. He also treats the nearly unbelievable rates of addiction, still climbing.

I recommend it.

A couple things I’d like to see: addressing the underlying cultural causes and addictions to flying and other behavior enabled by pollution and depletion where the harm comes to people far away. Not treating the culture causes leads his last section, on protecting ourselves, from addressing the underlying culture driving industries to pursue addiction. As I see it, if we don’t change our culture, we can try to curb and resist addiction as individuals or even by law, but we’ll keep restoring it. This view is a major theme of my upcoming book.

Not looking at behavior enabled by polluting and depleting misses flying and travel. A lot of what he writes about behavioral addiction applies to flying, single-use packaging, and related scourges.

The Story of More: by Hope Jahrens: Jahrens writes compellingly. She connects our environmental problems to our lives and hers without skimping on rigor. She makes it visceral. I suspect people who read it already feel connected and aren’t acting. My life is about reaching and leading these people, who point fingers at others but, like addicts, deny and suppress their involvement, rationalizing and justifying everything they do, not acknowledging that their rationalizing and justifying show that they are acting against their values.

People who don’t feel connected, I suspect won’t pick it up to read it. If they do, they may find her putting them off. I don’t think she realizes some views she takes for granted aren’t shared by all, particularly people who aren’t liberal. Also, she presents scientists as people who know what to do. I’ll grant they understand the biological, chemical, and physical situation, but not that they know how to solve the problems. That’s culture and requires leadership. I don’t know many scientists who lead effectively.

I recommend it.

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