1-Sentence-Summary: Irresistible reveals how alarmingly stuck to our devices we are, shows the negative consequences of technology addiction, and gives tips for a healthier relationship with the digital world.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
You’re probably reading this from a device. And most likely, it’s one that you’ve picked up today more times than you think. We all share on social media and check our notifications. What’s wrong with having a little connectedness in our lives?
The big problem with always being linked to the digital world is that we are susceptible to developing addictions to it. You could say that we find them unavoidable. That’s the argument of Adam Alter’s book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
Although smartphones, tablets, and the like have made our lives wildly more convenient, they’ve also come at a cost. And that price is us missing out on opportunities to connect and experience life on a deeper level.
While you may not think you’ve got a problem, most of us check our phones more than we think. If you don’t believe there’s any harm in this, read on to discover why you might be wrong.
Here are the 3 most surprising lessons I learned about smartphone addiction:
- Addictive behaviors like checking our smartphones are similar to drug addiction and can also have harmful health effects.
- If you want to be more productive, turn off your email notifications entirely.
- Rather than trying to quit phone addiction cold turkey, try replacing it with something else.
Let’s take a closer look at how our lives can improve if we had a better relationship with technology!
Lesson 1: Drug addiction and smartphone addiction bear some shocking resemblances, and both come with similar consequences.
When I say the word addiction, you most likely think of drug or alcohol abuse. Recently, though, scientists are finding that some activities we engage in can affect the brain in a similar way to those more severe addictions.
In all of these cases, our habitual actions result in the release of dopamine. This signals intense pleasure in the brain. But the problem is that the enjoyment we get out of the action decreases each time we do it.
When you’re trying to get that hit from scrolling endlessly through social media, you are constantly seeking more pleasure. But the dopamine release you get from it grows smaller the more you swipe up to see more of your feed. Thus you develop a habit, or in other words, an addiction.
Although you might not readily see them, the negative affects of this are prevalent. Poor sleep is just one example. The light from our phones signals our bodies that it’s time to be awake, so we stay awake. When we use them in our beds, it tells our mind that the bed is a place to be conscious, not to fall asleep.
But there is some good news. Even though our addictions to technology are similar to how a drug addiction may occur, they are easier to break because they are less intense. We’ll take a closer look at this in lesson three, but first let’s look at another way our connectedness harms us.
Lesson 2: Notifications are wreaking havoc on your productivity and you should silence them as much as possible.
Just now while writing this summary, I got an email notification on my phone. I quickly slid it open to see what it was and answer it. Before I knew it 10 minutes had gone by. If it weren’t for the topic of this lesson, I might now have gotten back to work so quickly.
Research shows that up to 70 percent of emails are read within just six seconds. We’d like to think this means we’re being ultra-productive, but it’s actually the opposite. Just like my experience while writing this summary, whenever we get an email we have to stop. And estimates say that the time it takes us to get back into deep work after a distraction at 25 minutes!
That means that for the average employee who checks their email 25 times a day, they will never get to the point of complete focus. We feel good when we check email so quickly because it gives us a small win, but the cost is far higher than anyone realizes.
Instead, turn off email notifications completely on your phone and computer. Set aside a specific time when you will check and respond to email. One study shows that people forced to not check email for a long period of time experience many benefits. They walk, interact in person with coworkers, and get outside more. The research also found that more times of longer focus sessions meant they were actually more productive by checking email less frequently.
Lesson 3: It’s much easier to change a bad habit into a good one than it is to try to quit cold turkey.
Think of a habit that you’re trying to quit. Have you tried to snuff it out more than once? Most of us end up trying to inefficiently break bad habits by the “cold turkey” method. Usually, this only leaves us relapsing and feeling frustrated. But there’s a better way.
Instead of attempting to sever an addiction from your life completely, try substituting it for a good habit. In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, the “habit loop” is broken down into three parts:
Each of these is present when you succumb to your smartphone addiction. Taking out your phone is the cue, your routine of opening a social media app comes next, and finally the reward is getting likes and feeling “connected.” The good news is that you can change this pattern and reap the benefits.
If you decide you want a healthier relationship with technology, replace the “routine” part of the habit loop. Instead of picking up your phone, pick up a book or something else you enjoy having in your hand. Practice this daily for a while and you’ll find that your relationships, mental health, and fitness will improve.
Well, the findings that Irresistible unveils are quite alarming! I like to think of myself as one who doesn’t use my phone too much, but after reading this one I’m giving it a second thought. I think I’ll try to spend more time going on walks or playing with my kids instead of on my phone!
Who would I recommend the Irresistible summary to?
The 31-year-old who plays World of Warcraft and wonders why they’re always unhappy, the 54-year-old who can’t put their phone down when their kids are around, and anyone who thinks that they’re the exception and that taking their smartphone to bed with them doesn’t hurt their entire life.