Welcome to the age of behavioral addiction - an age in which half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones.
Why are people named Kim, Kelly, and Ken more likely to donate to Hurricane Katrina victims than to Hurricane Rita victims? Are you really more likely to solve puzzles if you watch a light bulb illuminate? How did installing blue lights along a Japanese railway line halt rising crime and suicide rates? Can decorating your walls with the right artwork make you more honest? The human brain is fantastically complex, having engineered space travel and liberated nuclear energy, so it's no wonder that we resist the idea that we're deeply influenced by our surroundings.
How many times have you checked your phone today? Why are messaging apps, email and social media so hard to resist? How come we always end up watching another episode? In recent years, media and technology have perfected the lucrative art of gaining and holding our attention. This extraordinary feat has changed the behaviour of billions of people, and especially the young: by current medical standards, we are experiencing an unprecedented global pandemic of addiction.