Irresistible · The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked · Book Review


In “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” author Adam Alter delves into the unsettling world of behavioral addiction triggered by modern technology. Alter, a professor of marketing and psychology, employs a multidisciplinary approach to analyze why today’s gadgets, apps, and social media platforms are so hard to resist. He carefully constructs his arguments by combining scientific studies, real-world examples, and personal anecdotes, making the narrative not only compelling but also accessible.

One of the standout features of the book is Alter’s thorough investigation into the psychology of addiction. He elaborates on how human vulnerabilities are exploited through techniques like variable rewards and social validation loops, effectively demonstrating that the technology itself is not inherently evil; rather, it’s designed in a way that exploits our innate human tendencies. The book goes beyond just consumer technology and explores how the addictive mechanisms are also manifest in other areas like education and workplace productivity, broadening our understanding of how widespread this issue is.

Alter does an excellent job of balancing the heavy subject matter with an engaging writing style. The narrative includes interviews with tech insiders, psychologists, and ordinary people who share their personal stories of addiction. This mixture of storytelling and scientific evidence enhances the overall flow of the book, turning what could have been a dense academic treatise into an intriguing narrative.

However, one potential shortfall of “Irresistible” might be its limited focus on solutions. While Alter brilliantly diagnoses the problem and its origins, the book offers fewer insights into practical ways for individuals and society to combat this addiction. Given the complexity of the problem, this lack of solutions might leave some readers feeling somewhat adrift.

Despite this, “Irresistible” serves as a wake-up call to recognize and understand the addictive nature of modern technology. It is an essential read for anyone interested in the psychological and societal effects of technology, as well as for those in the tech industry who have the power to design more ethical products. By unraveling the dark science behind what makes our devices so addictive, Alter opens the door for a conversation about how we can disentangle ourselves from the snares of addictive technology and regain control of our lives.